Cultural visit to Madrid’s museums: the perfect guide

Everybody likes some kind of art and culture. Some love it and some just like it a bit. There’s a type of art which is exclusive and highly demanding. We talk about painting and visual arts.

If you like visual arts, you will surely love to visit Madrid and discover the best exhibitions in the most important museums of the capital.

Let’s start the travel!

Enjoy Madrid’s exhibitions in the best museums

There’s always something to see in Madrid, particularly if we talk about visual arts exhibitions. All museums and main gallery arts in Madrid host weekly new amazing events.  Discover below the five main museums in Madrid and know about their histories.

Prado Museum

It was built in 1786 as the Royal Cabinet of Natural History in Spain. Prado’s Museum became quickly one of the biggest museums in the world. What makes this museum special is its wide collection of Goya, Greco, El Bosco, Velazquez and Tiziano, one of the most important art galleries in the world of the 16th and 17th centuries artists.

We can find in the museum two prestigious works, not just because of their beauty, but for their meaning: Degollacion de San Juan Bautista y banquete de Herodes (The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and The Feast of Herod) measuring 952 centimeters in width and 280 centimeters high, the biggest in the museum.

We can also find Alegoria de la donacion del Casino a la reina Isabel de Braganza por el Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Allegory of the donation of the Casino to Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza by the Municipality of Madrid) painted by Vicente Lopez in order to decorate the roof of the Queen’s Casino, which has now disappeared.

Current exhibitions

  • The invited work: since the 19th January we can find in the museum a portrait of Don Pedro de Alcantara Tellez-Giron y Pacheco, Osuna’s 9th Duke. It’s a Goya’s work available until the next 24th April in Madrid.

  • Georges de La Tour exhibition: it is shown since the 23rd February and finishes on 12th June. For many people he’s an unknown painter, but as you analyse his loneliness and darkness on his paintings, you will start admiring one of the most outstanding French painters of the 17th century.

Future exhibitions

Strength and beauty, Miguel Blay in Museo del Prado

Strength and beauty, Miguel Blay in Museo del Prado

  • Strength and beauty: it will be shown from the 19th April until the 2nd October in Museo del Prado. A varied exhibition dedicated to one of the most outstanding Spanish sculptors, Miguel Blay. Realism, modernism, symbolism and 150 anniversary of the sculptor are celebrated in Museo del Prado.

  • Copied by the sun: in collaboration with Glasgow University or Centro de Estudios Europa Hispanica, Museo del Prado hosts an spectacular exhibition: calotypes and talbotypes made in 1847 by Nicolaas Henneman and Stirling Maxwell. This was the first Photography exhibition in the History of Art. The original book, called Annals of the Artists of Spain was also the first in history which had photographic evidence of Spanish artists like Goya. Enjoy this exhibition from the 18th May to the 4th September.

  • Exhibition of the Centenary: the 500 anniversary of El Bosco death is commemorated and in honour of this great artist Museo del Prado together with more than 20 of the biggest museums in the world will host his work in six themed sections. Paintings exhibited in Prado and others brought from different places in the planet. It will be exhibited from May 31 to September 11.

Museo del Prado: what you should know

Museo del Prado is located in Ruiz de Alarcon Street, 23. At the end of this article, we give you some tips to reach it and enjoy it.

Museo del Prado opens from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm and Sunday and  bank holidays from 10am to 7pm. It only closes 3 days a year: January 1, May 1 and December 25. For those who want to visit Museo del Prado for free, you can do it from Monday to Saturday from 6 to 8 pm and Sunday and bank holidays from 5 to 7 pm.

Museo Reina Sofia

It’s located in a quiet and charming square over what previously was the General Hospital of Madrid. Museo Reina Sofia hosts works of the 20th century and contemporary art works. Together with Museo del Prado and Thyssen Bornemisza conforms the Art’s Triangle in Madrid (more information below).

Interesting fact: art by floods

One of the main attractions of Museo Reina Sofia is the collections of famous artists like  Picasso, Dali and Miro.

The museum hosts 20.000 works and exhibits fewer than 7% of them. Admiring the famous Guernica is an amazing experience in the museum. We also suggest you to see El Hombre Invisible de Dali (Dali’s invisible man).

Another piece of art that makes this museum popular, is the pair of crystal lifts on the façade of the main building. Its style with crystal details makes this building a piece of art itself.

Sabatini Building,  Reina Sofia Museum

Sabatini Building, Reina Sofia Museum

Interesting fact: Sabatini Building

Sabatini is an Italian architect who designed the famous Puerta de Alcala, an icon for architecture in Spain. The original building plans of the museum were dismissed, as it had less than a quarter of the estimated budget. For this reason, the façade of the building is simple and almost empty.

About the exhibitions

  • Ulises Carrion: the exhibition of this Mexican artists has been shown since March 16 and will be exhibited until October 10 at the 3rd floor of Sabatini Building. He has been recognized as the promoter of the art and the publisher; founder of Other Books And So.

  • Remy Zaugg exhibition: the exhibition is called Cuestiones de percepción (perception issues) and is exhibited from March 31 to August 28 at Palacio de Velazquez in Parque del Retiro, Madrid and invites all monographic art lovers to this exhibition in honour of the swiss artist. It awakens your senses through perception and the use of language. This exhibition is free.

  • Wilfredo Lam: the exhibition starts on the 5th April and finishes on the 15th August. It shows the work of the famous Cuban artist. A mix of traditional modernism and Caribbean and African symbols reflect vanguardist movement started by Wilfredo Lam which is shown in a belligerent and committed painting.

  • Erlea Maneros Zabala: this artist from Bilbao reflects in this exhibition its fine abstract art, focusing on distribution and image contexts. This exhibition will run from the 19th April to the 29th August at Sabatini Building in Museo Reina Sofia.

Museo Nacional Reina Sofia: times and information

At Santa Isabel Street in Madrid we find Museo Reina Sofia main headquarters. It integrates both Sabatini and Nouvel buildings. The museum’s other headquarters are in Parque del Retiro and it is integrated by Palacio de Velazquez and Palacio de Cristal.

Opening times comprise from 7 to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday and from 1.30pm to 7 pm on Sunday.

In Parque del Retiro headquarters tickets are free. So, if you want to visit museums in Madrid for free, this is an excellent option.

National Archeological Museum

Closed for almost eight years due to its complete restoration, the National Archeological Museum opened in 2014. Although it preserves the main attributes and historical characteristics from its foundation in 1867, the National Archeological Museum has become a modern museum of the 21st century and you could be one of the first to admire it.

Relevant information: La Dama de Elche

After its opening, we can find some iconic sculptures in Spain: La Dama de Elche. A work made in the 5th century Before Christ, which invites to visit the museum. We must also stand out Ibiza or Galera Ladies and the popular Bulls of Costitx in Majorca.

La Dama de Elche is so important for the National Archeological Museum as Mona Lisa for Louvre Museum in Paris.

Relevant information: interior café and library

If you are a coffee lover, you will be glad to visit the Archeological Museum. The café even if it is part of the museum, it’s in the main hall and you don’t need to buy an entrance to the museum to enter, have a sit and enjoy a coffee while you admire artworks.

The library in the Archeological Museum has more than 120.000 books, mostly archaeology and history books. It’s the perfect place to learn about these topics.

Archeological Museum exhibitions

Most of the museum exhibitions are permanent. For this reason. if you are in Madrid and would like to visit an art’s exhibition, you can always go to the Archeological Museum and admire great pieces of art.

This month the museum offers guided visits and themed tours through the area of Proto-history, Medieval world and its inner yard dedicated to Arabic culture.

Times and other interesting facts

The National Archeological Museum is at Serrano Street. You can easily access it by bus, metro or train. It only closes on Monday and opens from 9.30am to 8pm the rest of the days, except Sunday and bank days closing at 3pm. You can enjoy a free entrance to the museum on Saturday from 2pm and on Sunday morning. The general entrance to the museum costs just 3€.

Thyssen Museum in Madrid

It’s one of the most important art galleries in Spain located in Paseo del Prado, really close to other two big museums in the city: Prado and Reina Sofia.

It hosts historical paintings which belonged to Thyssen-Bornemisza family for over 70 years.

Short summary: what the museum tries to express

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

It has a privileged location in Madrid and its interior design differs a lot from other museums. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum shows exclusivity, luxury, high-class and elegance.

In this museum we can find lots of important artworks from the 20th century, works of pop art, Russian constructivism, German expressionism…  in other places they would be “classified material” because of their historic value. We recommend you to see works like Piazza Navona, Roma by Vanvitelli, a reflection of perspectivism and Reflejo con dos niños, a self-portrait of Lucian Freud, in which you see the artist crushed into the roof and the pendant light.

Relevant information: its amazing walls

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is different from other traditional museums. It has not the typical white walls as background for several pictures and works. It has warm walls in wood or clay colour. This decision was made by baroness Thyssen, Carmen Cervera, baron Thyssen’s widow.

Interesting exhibitions at Thyssen-Bornemisza

  • Andrew and Jamie at the studio: the American realism is perfectly reflected by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, who potentiated this artistic movement last century. More than 60 works are exhibited from March 1 to June 19. Some works are shown to all audiences for the first time. Come and discover Wyeth’s amazing works!

  • Realism in Madrid: exhibition opened on the 9th February and finishing on the 22nd May. It hosts almost 100 works of artists from Madrid, who work on their art works since the 50’s. It reflects realism and daily routines, as well as common places and the most representative scenes of Madrid.

When and how to see Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum collection

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is in Paseo del Prado integrated in the Art’s Triangle together with Museo del Prado and Museo Nacional Reina Sofia. If you want to visit permanent collections, you can go on Monday as the entrance is free from 12pm to 4pm. You can also go from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 7pm paying a reduced fare for 13€.

Accommodation: in the heart of Madrid, in the Museums’ Triangle

Madrid centre is one of the most exclusive areas in the city. It’s the perfect place to stay, as we find most of the best museums in this popular area.

For this reason, we recommend Catalonia Las Cortes hotels in Santa Ana Square and the Art’s Triangle. Below, there’s more information about the hotel.

Main hotel attributes

If you want to have a quiet and nice experience during your visit to the museums in Madrid, you should find the easiest access. The location of Catalonia Las Cortes, at the heart of Prado Street in Madrid and in front of the charming Santa Ana Square offer you four advantages you should know.

1. Privileged location: in the Art’s Triangle

It’s located in El Prado Street in the centre of Madrid. Particularly, it’s in front of Santa Ana Square. This area is also known as Las Letras neighbourhood and also the Art’s Triangle. It’s called like this because it hosts the three biggest museums in Madrid: Museo del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Nacional Reina Sofia.

Its privileged location allows you to visit the main museums in Madrid just by walking through this area and enjoying the exhibitions.

2. Classic style construction and rooms

room of Catalonia Las Cortes

room of Catalonia Las Cortes

Formerly, the building were now the hotel is located was a palace. Its original construction dates from the 17th century. For this reason, the hotel chain decided to preserve and restore it completely.

The hotel still hosts paintings, metallic and wood pieces and many more items as old as the palace, giving each room a particular historical atmosphere, so you will enjoy the museum and the cultural exhibition for sure. If you look at the photos of Catalonia Las Cortes Hotel you will admire its charm and architectural tradition.

3. Free snacks and international cuisine

  • Free snacks: Piscolabis, that’s how free snacks are called in Catalonia Las Cortes hotel. This is not an exclusive service and it does not comprise any extra fee. On the contrary, it’s available without any additional fee for the hotel guests.

  • International cuisine: we can find a great restaurant inside the hotel, specialized in international cuisine managed by the chef Jesus Trujillano. The menu and the customer service will whet your appetite.

4. Pets are welcome upon customer request!

Finally, the last attribute of Las Cortes hotel by Catalonia Hotels that we must stand out is the possibility of bringing your pet to the hotel. The guest must just confirm that he will bring his pet at the time of booking his room. And that’s it! The hotel will prepare everything for your pet to be comfortable and also enjoy culture and Madrid’s museums,  of course, in its own way.