CaixaForum is Madrid's latest cultural and architectural star. It is one of those sights where the building is as much of an
attraction as the content found in the interior, with its exuberant façade featuring a vertical garden by the French botanist Patrick Blanc.
It consists of 15,000 plants from 250 species, attracting large crowds that then proceed to the exhibitions and other events inside.
Once through the doors visitors are then drawn to another curious sight, a staircase that could easily be mistaken for a Gaudi creation found in
Barcelona. In reality however, the entire extraordinary building is by the famous Swiss duo Herzog and De Meuron, best known for designing the
Tate Modern in London that led to their Pritzker Award win.
The location chosen by La Caixa Foundation for its new Madrid home naturally had to be in the vicinity of the
Reina Sofia, and the
Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, so for that an old power plant had to be restored and expanded. It is now one of the Spanish capital's best examples of
industrial architecture, and one of its must-see sights.
The exhibitions feature works from the foundation's permanent collection (some 700 pieces by artists from the 1980s to the present),
as well as temporary displays from other museums and foundations.
In addition to the exhibition space, the complete $36-million cultural center includes a bookshop, a restaurant, and an
auditorium that hosts concerts and conferences.
Address: Paseo del Prado, 36, 28014 Madrid
Metro: Atocha, Line 1
Telephone: 91 330 73 00
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm