The Prado Museum is Madrid's top cultural sight, and one of the world's greatest art galleries.
Located in the eponymous street, El Paseo del Prado, its dazzling display of works by the great European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch (among other major Italian and Flemish artists), is housed in an 18th-century Neo-Classical building that opened as a museum in 1819.
Its name derives from the district where it is located, formerly an area of market gardens known as the "prado" or meadow. The Spanish queen at the time had been impressed with the Louvre in Paris and wanted to showcase an enormous collection in her own country. The result is several thousand works at the present time, with a recent modern extension allowing more of them to be displayed.
The following video is a wonderful presentation of this marvellous museum, and well worth watching:
The sheer scale of the collection can make it daunting, so it is important to arrive with a few of the highlights in mind and concentrate on those. Perhaps the collection's most famous painting is Velazquez's "Las Meninas," showing princess Margarita and her two ladies-in-waiting as well as the artist himself with paintbrush and palette in hand. Another of his famous works, "The Triumph of Bacchus," shows the god of wine with a group of drunkards.
The other major artist of the collection is Goya, whose depiction of nudity in the painting "The Naked Maja" led him to be accused of obscenity. His works make up such a large part of the museum, that his statue stands outside the main entrance.
Another outstanding painting in the history of art is "The Garden of Delights" by Bosch, whose several other works are also represented at the Prado, as he was one of King Filipe II's favourite artists.
Also look out for Rubens' "The Adoration of the Magi" and "The Three Graces," depicting three women (the Graces or the daughters of Zeus), dancing and representing Love, Joy, and Revelry.
Rembrandt is also present with his fine self-portrait and "Artemisia," the subject of which is still unclear. Another self-portrait is that of Albrecht Dürer, who painted it at the age of 26.
For a 1-hour visit, The Prado recommends the following masterpieces:
'The Crucifixion' by Juan de Flandes, Room 57b
'The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest' by El Greco, Room 10a
'Las Meninas' by Velázquez, Room 12
'Jacob's Dream' by José de Ribera, Room 16b
'The 3rd of May 1808 in Madrid: the executions on Principe Pio hill' by Goya, Room 39
'The Annunciation' by Fra Angelico, Room 49
'The Cardinal' by Raphael, Room 49
'The Emperor Charles V, on Horseback, in Mühlberg' by Titian, Room 11
'The Immaculate Conception' by Tiepolo Giambattista, Room 89
'Descent from the Cross' by Roger van der Weyden, Room 58
'The Garden of Earthly Delights' by Hieronymus Bosch, Room 56
'The Three Graces' by Peter Paul Rubens, Room 9
'Self Portrait' by Albrecht Dürer, Room 55b
'Artemis' by Rembrandt, Room A
'Offering by Orestes and Pylades (San Ildefonso Group)'. Anonymous, Room 71
The first 14 of these masterpieces may be seen in ultra high resolution
(14,000 million pixels) in Google Earth, allowing you to study every minutiae normally invisible to the naked eye. You have to open Google Earth, select the 3D layer on the left panel, and type "Museo del Prado" in the "Fly to"
box, to see these masterful works of art in all their glorious detail. However, as the Prado's director Miguel Zugaza says, "This shows you the body of the painting, but what you won't find here is the soul. You can only find that by looking at the original."
The Prado is worthy of repeat visits, but if you are able to only visit it once, these are the major works you should not miss. Devote most of your remaining time to admiring the Spanish works of the 17th century.
For a break or light meal, the museum offers a cafeteria. The museum shop is also worthy of a stop, as is acquiring an "Art Walk" ticket ("El Paseo del Arte") that also allows entrance to the
Thyssen Bornemisza and
Reina Sofia museums. Although perhaps an even better option is to purchase the Madrid card (see link below under "Entrance fees"), since this also gives you entrance to dozens of other museums and sights, and allows you to avoid the sometimes extremely long queues here at the Prado.
Accommodation Near the Prado Museum
This area is a good location as a base for your stay in Madrid, since it is right alongside the top three museums and within walking distance
of all major sights and attractions.
There are plenty of hotels, self-catering apartments, and small, family-run hostels within walking distance of the museum, and you can see this accommodation via the link below with FREE cancellations for online bookings.
The Madrid Tourist Card offers free entrance to the Prado, priority access with no queueing, and free entrance to more than 50 other Madrid museums,
amongst a myriad of other free services (see link below).
For a half-day excursion with
English-speaking guide to the the Prado museum and Royal Palace, check out our
2019: a year of celebrations to mark the Bicentenary of the Museo del Prado
In addition to the programme of temporary exhibitions scheduled for 2019, which features names such as Velázquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Fra Angelico, Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, and Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the Museo del Prado is organising special events in its Villanueva Building and activities throughout Spain.
Madrid, 18 January 2019
The Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura, which changed its name in 1868 to become the Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura and subsequently the Museo Nacional del Prado, first opened to the public on 19 November 1819. The events organised for this Bicentenary will encourage a reflection on the Museum's past and present while also looking to the future.
Temporary exhibition programme
A Painting for a Nation. The Execution of Torrijos (1888)
- Room 61A. Villanueva Building
- Exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the Museo Real's change of status to become the Museo Nacional
- Curator: Javier Barón, Chief Curator of the department of 19th-century painting, Museo Nacional del Prado.
To mark the Museo Real's change of status 150 years ago, when it became the Museo Nacional (1868), the Prado is presenting an exhibition centred on The Execution of Torrijos and his Companions on the Beach at Malaga by Antonio Gisbert. In addition to its artistic merit, Gisbert's work, which is considered the masterpiece of late history painting in Spain, involves a significant political content as a declaration of civil liberties. Deploying a restrained naturalism, it celebrates the nobility and dignity of the liberal politician José María Torrijos (1791-1831) and his companions from every social class, who were executed without trial on the orders of Ferdinand VII. Funded by the Spanish State during the liberal government of Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, Gisbert's work was painted in 1888 for the Museo del Prado. It will now be shown alongside two preparatory sketches: one in pencil (recently restored for the exhibition) and the other in oil, together with prints and documents relating to the painting.
Dates: 23 March to 30 June 2019
Fra Angelico and the Rise of the Florentine Renaissance
- Rooms C and D. Jerónimos Building
- Curator: Carl Brandon Strehlke, Emeritus Curator, Philadelphia Museum of Art
This exhibition analyses the emergence of the Florentine Renaissance around 1420 to 1430, with a particular focus on Fra Angelico, one of the great Renaissance painters and a pioneering figure in the context of the artistic progress characteristic of Florence at this period, together with other great painters such as Masaccio, Paolo Uccello and Filippo Lippi, the sculptors Ghiberti, Donatello and Nanni di Banco, and the architect Brunelleschi.
The fact that Fra Angelico was a monk did not prevent him from working closely with other artists and he headed a large workshop that supplied paintings to both churches and important private clients in the city and elsewhere. This exhibition aims to reassess the chronology of the artist's earliest works, characterised by an innovative quality comparable to Masaccio.
The exhibition is centred on The Annunciation from the Museo Nacional del Prado. Dated to the mid-1420s, this was the first Florentine altar painting in the Renaissance style to use perspective to organise the space and in which Gothic arcading is replaced by more rectangular forms, reflecting Brunelleschi's architectural ideas in his designs for San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito. Together with this masterpiece, the exhibition will include two further paintings by Fra Angelico recently acquired for the Prado: The Virgin of the Pomegranate and The Funeral of Saint Anthony Abbot. The exhibition is curated by Carl Brandon Strehlke, Emeritus Curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, who has published extensively on Fra Angelico and other Florentine Renaissance masters. The accompanying illustrated catalogue will be published in Spanish and English.
Dates: 28 May to 22 September 2019
Sponsored by: Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado and American Friends of
Parallels: Velázquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Spanish and Dutch Golden Age
- Rooms A and B. Jerónimos Building
- Curator: Alejandro Vergara, Chief Curator of Flemish and Northern Schools painting up to 1700, Museo Nacional del Prado
The Museo Nacional del Prado is preparing an exhibition on late 16th- and 17th- century Dutch and Spanish painting. This is an ambitious project and one of great importance for the Museum, firstly because it will take place during the Bicentenary year, and secondly because it is the result of an agreement with the Rijksmuseum, which will be lending a major group of works within the framework of a reciprocal arrangement between the two institutions. The exhibition offers a reflection on the pictorial traditions of Spain and the Low Countries. While art-historical studies, particularly in Holland, have considered these traditions as essentially divergent, this exhibition will juxtapose the historical myths and artistic realities of the two regions, reflecting on their numerous shared characteristics. These common traits will be revealed through works by Velázquez, Rembrandt, Ribera, Frans Hals and Vermeer, among other artists. The accompanying catalogue will include texts by specialists on the issues covered in the exhibition.
Dates: 25 June to 29 September 2019. Sole sponsor: Fundación AXA
- The Drawing Master. Spanish drawing manuals of the 17th and 18th centuries
- Curators: José Manuel Matilla, Chief Curator of Prints and Drawings, Museo Nacional del Prado; María Luisa Cuenca, Head of the department of Archive, Documentation and Library, Museo Nacional del Prado
The Museo del Prado's Library has the largest collection of drawing manuals assembled to date. This material constituted a key tool for learning the skill of drawing in artists' workshops, as well as in fine arts academies and for amateurs at home.
To mark the celebration of its Bicentenary, the Museum has organised an exhibition that will reveal the evolution of these drawing manuals in the Iberian Peninsula and by extension the rest of Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the golden age of these texts. The exhibition will firstly analyse the use made of this pedagogical material, its function and circulation across Europe, particularly Spain, and secondly the artistic, methodological and stylistic influences on the production and design of Spanish drawing manuals.
Also on display will be examples of non-Spanish drawing manuals and other graphic material, including preparatory drawings used in the design and creation of these manuals, and works produced by apprentices when practising this discipline. Another interesting section is devoted to prints of academic nude studies, treatises on painting, anatomy and proportion, and paintings that reveal the function and use of these drawing manuals and the impact of the different models reproduced in them on subsequent painting. Other materials on display include examples of drawing implements employed by artists.
Dates: 15 October 2019 to 2 February 2020
- Sofonisba Anguissola – Lavinia Fontana. Two women, two artists
- Room C. Jerónimos Building
- Curator: Leticia Ruiz, Head of the department of Spanish Painting up to 1500, Museo Nacional del Prado
This exhibition will reveal the artistic personalities of two of the most important women in the history of western art. For the first time, the Museo Nacional has brought together a total of 60 works in order to juxtapose and compare the most important paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola (ca.1535-1625) and Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), painters who achieved fame and recognition among their contemporaries, both due to and despite being women. Both broke the moulds that society imposed on women with regard to artistic practice and the deep-rooted scepticism regarding women's creative and artistic capacities.
Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana were born and trained in Cremona and Bologna respectively, two nearby artistic centres but ones defined by their own particular pictorial, social and cultural traditions. Their family backgrounds and life histories were notably different although in both cases the role of their fathers was fundamental in the development of their careers.
Sofonisba Anguissola belonged to a family from the minor nobility in Cremona and had six sisters. Their father, Amilcare Anguissola, encouraged all of them to acquire artistic skills within the context of a humanist programme considered appropriate for women's education. In the case of Sofonisba her training was more rigorous and continued longer than would be expected for a family of such social rank, undoubtedly in a reflection of her abilities. The artist primarily focused on portraiture, achieving a degree of fame which, thanks to her aristocratic status and reputation as a virtuous woman, resulted in her arrival at the Spanish court where she was significantly appointed lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabel de Valois, a position that concealed her role as a painter.
Lavinia Fontana was the daughter of Prospero Fontana, a painter of some reputation, with whom she initially trained and who foresaw and encouraged his daughter's future career. Lavinia established an extremely active workshop in Bologna which also received commissions from Florence and Rome. In contrast to Sofonisba Anguissola, Fontana's output was wide-ranging and varied: she produced numerous portraits and religious works for churches and private oratories, as well as mythological compositions, a genre in which the nude was notably important.
Contemporary art installation in conjunction with the exhibition During the exhibition, the spaces normally occupied by the self-portraits of the two artists in the galleries of the Museum's permanent collection will be filled by two works by the artist Maria Gimeno. These are embroideries that partly copy the two canvases. They will be displayed with the backs facing outwards to emphasise the hidden role of women in art over the centuries.
Dates: 22 October 2019 to 2 February 2020
- All that remains is my willpower. Drawings by Goya
- Rooms A and B. Jeronimos Building
- Curators: José Manuel Matilla, Chief Curator of Prints and Drawings, Museo Nacional del Prado; Manuela Mena, Chief Curator of 18th-century Painting and Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado
The Museo del Prado has always reserved a special place for Goya's drawings, which constitute one of the fundamental pillars of its collection. Photographs taken in the early 20th century show how they were presented, grouped together in large frames next to the Black Paintings. From the 1920s to the 1980s they were displayed in a separate gallery, after which they were no longer on show for conservation reasons and since then they have only been included in temporary exhibitions at the Museum and elsewhere.
Goya kept his drawings throughout his life and on his death in 1828 they passed to his son Javier. They were gradually dispersed but a significant number of them, approximately half, entered the Museo Nacional del Prado. The first group entered in 1872 when the Museo de la Trinidad, which had acquired them in 1866, fused with the Prado. The other major group was acquired in 1886 from the collection of Valentín Carderera: following Carderera's death, his nephew Mariano sold 262 sheets of individual drawings to the Museum, principally the preparatory studies for the print series. Since then the collection has continued to grow through bequests and acquisitions, including the unpublished drawings that make up the Italian Sketchbook. The result is the most important collection of drawings by Goya in existence.
Since the publication of Gassier's catalogue in 1973 the corpus of Goya's drawings has expanded with the addition of further works, while some formerly considered lost have been rediscovered and others previously considered autograph have been reconsidered. Information on material aspects of these works has also increased due to modern methods of technical analysis, and effective restoration has provided new data on technical aspects. All this has allowed the drawings to be scrutinised from a contemporary viewpoint, resulting in the need for a new catalogue raisonné that updates the enormous body of information accumulated in the almost two centuries of literature on the subject. Nonetheless, many drawings still remain to be studied. This project has involved the collaboration of the Museo del Prado's curatorial and restoration departments, together with leading specialists. The catalogue comprises five volumes: the first consisting of studies on different aspects of Goya as a draughtsman, including his technique, the private albums, the function of drawing as a preparatory tool for his prints, and the history of their dispersion and collecting. The second volume will study the drawings from the early years of his career to the start of the 1790s, which include four major groups: the Italian Sketchbook; the preparatory studies for the artist's paintings and tapestry cartoons; the drawings included in Goya's Letters to Martín Zapater; and drawings relating to the artist's printmaking activities during this early period, which culminated with the preparatory studies for his Copies of Velázquez. The third to fifth volumes will comprise a chronological study of the album drawings and the preparatory drawings for the great print series (the Caprichos, the Disasters of War, the Tauromaquia and the Disparates), as well as the remaining drawings executed as individual works or forming series for different projects. As a result, these catalogues will become the principal reference for the study of Goya's drawings.
The exhibition is the result of the research undertaken for this catalogue raisonné. It will present a chronological survey of Goya's drawings with examples from every period of his career, from the Italian Sketchbook to the Bordeaux Albums, offering a modern vision of the ideas that Goya recurrently interpreted throughout his lifetime and revealing the ongoing relevance of his thought.
Given that it celebrates the Museo del Prado's Bicentenary, the exhibition will bring together the symbolic total of 200 drawings by Goya from both the Museum's own holdings and public and private collections around the world. This number of works will make it the largest exhibition of Goya's drawings ever to be organised. The publication and exhibition is supported by the Fundación Botín within the framework of the collaborative agreement signed in 2014.
Dates: 19 November 2019 to 16 February 2020. With the part sponsorship of: Fundación Botín
- Events in the Villanueva Building
- Giacometti in the Prado
- Curator: Carmen Jiménez, Stephen and Nan Swid Curator of 20th Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Many of the greatest names in world art have visited the Museum's Villanueva Building over the past 200 years. One of the few not to do so, Alberto Giacometti, has now been invited in a desire to rectify that absence. Nineteen of the artist's works (17 sculptures and 2 paintings) will establish a dialogue with some of the most important paintings in the Museum's permanent collection.
Dates: 2 April to 7 July 2019. With the part sponsorship of: the Comunidad de Madrid
- PRADO 200
- Curator: Victor Cageao, Chief Programme Coordinator, Museo Nacional del Prado
PRADO 200 is a project that comprises the design and installation of a permanent display devoted to the history of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Its principal theme is the evolution of the Museum's buildings and display spaces.
This display will be located in the Villanueva Building, in the rooms that house the Dauphin's Treasure. It will aim to explain key concepts relating to the construction of the Prado's original building, its evolution and enlargement in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and the characteristics of the display spaces and installations that have been present in it over time, in addition to aspects relating to the Museum's image and day-to-day functioning.
The display will feature a range of objects (collections and non-art items associated with the Museum), organised into various thematic sections. Juan de Villanueva's architectural model for his third design for the Prado will be moved from its present location in Room 75 in order to be included in this permanent display.
Date: November 2019
- Ferdinand VII's Retiring Room
- Curator: Pedro José Martínez Plaza, curatorial assistant, Department of 19th-century painting, Museo Nacional del Prado
This exhibition reconstructs to the greatest possible extent the original appearance of Room 39, known as Their Majesties' Retiring Room, based on the inventory of 1834 which will be used for its recreation.
The room was inaugurated in 1828 and was designed as a portrait gallery of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty, from Philip V to Ferdinand VII, whose reign saw the opening of the Real Museo.
The portraits, by artists including Lorenzo Tiepolo, Anton Raphael Mengs and François-Xavier Fabre, were accompanied by still lifes, floral compositions and landscapes and by paintings of episodes from the reigns of Charles III and Ferdinand VII.
The display, which recreates the typical hanging of the paintings on different levels, will also include the presence in the adjoining small room of Ferdinand VII's toilet (on loan from the Museo del Romanticismo) and the other objects and fittings from that room, which have all survived apart from the rug and the furniture. This display will include at least 40 paintings, Villanueva's plan and the above-mentioned decorative art objects.
Opening: November 2019
Opening hours of the Prado Museum:
- From Monday to Saturday: 10am – 7pm
- Sundays and holidays: 10am - 7pm
- Museum Closed: January 1, May 1, and December 25.
- Reduced opening hours (10am – 2pm): January 6, December 24 and 31.
- NOTE: The galleries are cleared 10 minutes before closing
Entrance fees (prices correct as of July 2016):
- Free entry to the Prado & Priority Queueing with the Madrid Card. Click here!
General price: 15 €
Reduced price: 7.5 €
General admission + official guide: 24 €
General price "2 visits in one year": 22 €
Visit from 9 to 10 AM: 50 €
Paseo del Arte Card: 28 €
- The ticket allows the holder to visit the museum collection and temporary exhibitions on the same day
- Ticket office is located in the left wing of the building as you face the front.
For the latest prices, please always check the:
Atocha or Banco de España Address:
del Prado, s/n Tel.
(+34) 913 302 900