A stay in Madrid is simply not complete without a visit to the Prado Museum, a sprawling art museum boasting an extensive collection of Spanish and European artwork. The museum ranks right up there with London's National Gallery and Pari's Louvre in terms of the quality, breadth and renown of its collection, and a long visit is required in order to truly take it all in.
The museum's holdings include thousands of pieces: 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 medals and coins, 700 sculptures and an impressive 7,800 paintings. Of these paintings, only about 1,300 are on display due to lack of space... hard to imagine given its immense size! Artwork ranges from the 12th to early 19th centuries and much of it was originally part of the collections of the royal family. In addition to a peerless collection of Spanish artwork, it also has important collections of Italian and Flemish art that shouldn't be missed.
The permanent collection is divided into 8 main categories spread out across two enormous floors: Spanish painting (1100-1850), Italian painting (1300-1800), Flemish painting (1430-1700), French painting (1600-1800), German painting (1450-1800), drawings & prints, sculpture and decorative arts. The museum also hosts a revolving door of excellent temporary exhibitions.
Hung upon the walls of the Prado Museum are works by all the greats of Spanish art history, with particularly extensive collections by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez and El Greco. Other highlights of the museum include early Flemish works by Heronymous Bosch and Van der Weyden as well as the incredible masterpieces of the Venetian Renaissance school.