Tour of Prado Museum, Spanish National Art Museum, Madrid

Madrid has an amazing variety of sights and experiences to offer tourists. I deliberately avoided the famous bull fights that are conducted there but otherwise I tried and experienced little bit of everything. Having done the walk through old parts of Madrid, visited a cathedral – Almudena Cathedral, and also the Royal Palace of Madrid we were left with enough time to visit a museum. Madrid has a long list of museums. Wikipedia mentions 25 museums in its page for Madrid. Of these Prado Museum is rated as bestest among the best.

Goya Statue at Prado Museum

History of Prado Museum

Its history began during the reign of Charles III. He tried to create a single art collection under one roof. But it was not until the reign of Fernando VII when the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture was created, on 19th November 1819. He was encouraged by his wife, Queen María Isabel de Braganza. And she was inspired by the Louvre Museum in Paris. The king’s death caused inheritance problems and endangered the unity of the collection, but with the disappearance of the monarchy in Spain the museum became national property and became known as the Prado National Museum.

Initially it was dedicated solely to Spanish paintings. But as the collection of art works increased the museum was expanded and in 1918. With donations and contributions and acquisitions the collections swelled in numbers. Today there are around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, and this is only an estimate.

Tour of Prado Museum

The gigantic neo-classical building housing this museum is impressive. I now regret for not taking pics of the monument.  We had to stand for long in the queue to get to the entrance. And once side I lost track of time, in the process forgot to take the pictures of the museum building. Moreover I was so excited to do the tour of Prado Museum that other details seemed immaterial then. Photography inside is not permitted so you may better take the pictures of the exteriors of Prado Museum for memories.

Queue here reminded me of the one I experienced in Alhambra, only difference being this museum will allow everybody inside. So the lengthy , almost half a kilometer long line didn’t worry me much.

Tour of Prado Museum

Queue at Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain

Helpful Staff

Once inside even with audio guide and map of the museum rooms you will feel a little lost. There is too much of world class art to see. Exhibits are there in so many rooms. The art work belongs to Italian, Spanish, German, and Flemish school of arts and more. You will have to do little bit of planning. So choose which art style you would want to focus on. Instead of rushing through rooms after rooms, it will be better to focus on some of them.

If this is going to be your first and last time you visit Prado Museum then select the artists you are a fan of. The masterpieces are scattered in several rooms. Note down the room numbers and then chalk out your route through these rooms. A little bit of study of the art works here will help.

And of course I must mention the staffs here is really helpful. Couple of times I kind of had a loss of direction, they were too willing to guide. There is the Goya, Valasquz and El Greco, Bosch, Picasso many more. At the end of it there was a sense of satisfaction though I am sure if photography was allowed I would have been doubly thrilled.

Time for Tour of Prado Museum

The time span to tour Prado Museum can be any where between 1 hour to one whole day. It all depends on how detailed look you wish to have of each exhibit there. You can simply select 10 must see master pieces of Prado Museum and finish off the tour in a couple of hours.

Most Famous Work in Museo Prado

Las Meninas (The Ladies-in-Waiting) a 1656 painting is the most famous painting in Museo del Prado in Madrid. The creator/painter Diego Velázquez was the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age. Its complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted.

As expected there was a huge crowd in front of the painting. Indeed it was something to be admired but I failed to understand why the tourists stood rooted in the place. Some of them seemed to visually devour the strokes of colors on that canvas. The movement in that room was very slow.

Most famous painting of Prado Museum

Las Meninas (The Ladies-in-Waiting) a 1656 painting. Pic from wiki.

The Nude Maja

This statue is erected outside the museum. Goya created the painting of the nude lady. The Nude Maja is name given to 1797-1800 oil on canvas painting by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. It portrays a nude woman reclining on a bed of pillows, and was probably commissioned by Manuel de Godoy, to hang in his private collection in a separate cabinet reserved for nude paintings. Goya created a pendant of the same woman identically posed, but clothed, known as La maja vestida (The Clothed Maja). There is a painting of this inside Prado Museum since 1901.

The Nude Maja Statue at Prada Museum

Location of Prado Museum

Prado National Museum
Ruiz de Alarcón Street, 23
28014 Madrid

Opening hours of Prado Museum:

Monday to Saturday: 10:00 h to 20:00 h.
Sundays and holidays: 10:00 h to 19:00 h.
Reduced opening hours (January 6, December 24 and 31): 10:00 h to 14:00 h.

Closed on:

January 1, May 1, and December 25.

* The galleries are cleared 10 minutes before closing.

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63 Responses to “Tour of Prado Museum, Spanish National Art Museum, Madrid

  • Very helpful article for art students. If your tips are followed, the museum visit could be very fruitful.
    The sculpture of nude lady laying on the bed is splendid, the delicate details are just unbelievable!
    TC, keep smiling 🙂

  • We haven’t been to Spain at all! We try to visit museums in all cities we go in Europe, as you can learn so many things about the culture of each country. Excellent pic of the Meninas.

  • Loved the Prado! What a GREAT museum. We make it a point to visit all the major museums when we travel and we take the kids. I write travel guides for them so they can understand the art they are seeing….it is always fascinating to hear their insights and perspective.

  • Prado is fabulous !! It needs at least one full day to explore. I visited it for 3 hours and I felt I could have given it much more time. In this age of photoshop, laser printers and 3D printers, those paintings and sculptures are awe inspiring.

    Somewhere we are loosing the touch to the real Art due to excessive use of electronic assistance for creating artworks.

  • Yogi Saraswat
    11 months ago

    Your way of writing is fabulous Indrani ji . You always write brief history , timings and how to reach there of a particular post . There is Que for tickets and here in India Ques are for money now a days .

  • Wow! That looks like a great place to visit for art lovers. If they allowed photography inside so I would have seen the interiors and those things you saw. Great informative post, Indrani.

  • Not seen this though have been to Madrid twice.
    I loved the queues. 🙂 Both the real one and in the painting. Such lively and full of life!
    Looks like we should not miss it while visiting Madrid. Will make it a point to visit next time.

  • Great info about Madrid.

  • I am not massive art lovers but it was good time when I visited this museum few years ago, there was a bit of a line but it flowed quickly. A very nice building and nice artwork inside. You took great pictures with a really helpful description, thanks for sharing it

  • What a classy museum… loved reading about Prado

  • Prado for me is like the Louvre…a day or a single visit may just not be enough. Thanks for the highlights. Now I know what not to miss!

  • What a long queue! Must be a really interesting museum. I would definitely keep this in mind for future travels to Madrid!

  • Very useful post! i ll pinned it for sure Thanks for sharing!

  • I love visiting museums and I can easily spend a day in one. I’d spend time lingering on a piece of art while contemplating the genius and artistry of the creator. I will include this in our Madrid itinerary when we go visit. How much does it cost to get inside the museum though?

  • What a beautiful museum! I would love to visit here one day!

  • Museums are my favorite, I love teaching my children the history and art of a place and where better than a museum. You have made a wonderful description here, hope we could visit sometime next year.
    Menaka Bharathi has recently published http://simpleindianmom.in/demonitization-indian-moms-cope/

  • I remember learning about Diego Velázquez in my Art Appreciation class back in college. I thought his work was very beautiful.

  • It is so nice that you got visit so many places. I have not been able to explore like that outside of the United States. It would be nice to leave the country one day and see what’s out there.

  • Shane Prather
    11 months ago

    I don’t often go into museums- preferring to explore outside and more into architecture and street art. But looks like some charming pieces of art!

  • Madrid is a place I’ve always wanted to go to. Definitely moved a bit higher on that list now!

  • I am not a fan of museums, but I can appreciates arts like paintings. I do find it fascinating to look at pieces painted centuries ago. BUT hold on, did you mention HALF-KILOMETER queue??? Seriously? Gosh… So it has to be crowded inside too?

  • This so much sounds like Louvre . I would love to take my time to visit here..no hurries.

  • Off late Indian tourists are inclined to choose Spain amongst other European destinations. I think the Bollywood Movie Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara did much of its promotion here. I would love to visit it someday too.

  • I appreciate you sharing this walking tour experience of yours in Madrid. I have been dying to visit and experience Spain but sad to say I had been refused a visa. Maybe next year! I will keep on trying!

  • Spain more than the infamous Sagrada Familia has another interesting to offer to tourist.
    Personally, I love Spain for many reasons. And this Goya Museum is a revelation to me.
    I really hate waiting in a line, is there any way to avoid that que ?

  • The Prado is a top place to visit. Oh the The Nude Maja – gave us the giggles she did hehehehe Awesome post, have pinned to one of our favourite Europe boards.

  • Sounded like the museum is large and full of interesting collections. I bet it must be a place to go to for all the art lovers. 🙂

  • Uhhh El prado is one of my fav museum in Spain. I perfectly know Madrid, since I was living in Spain for 3 years and I went there many times…Madrid is the city of the artists, you can see art in every corner like in Calle huerta, where every ten meters there is a poem on the floor of the street. Such a city 🙂

  • I went here last year and saw the dark Gota exhibition – was fascinating and a but creepy and incredible how they could lift the paintings from the walls of his house for display in a gallery. The Prado really is an amazing place

  • that trip to the museums are always one’s to treasure all the time, this sounds like a super museum from the write up. filled with rich stuffs. and for the location Madrid, makes it a unique one.

  • Madrid is such a wonderful city to visit! I’ve never been to Madrid but I’d really love to 🙂 I’ll keep in mind this museum if I ever do travel there 🙂

  • I loved the Prado! It was full of so many gorgeous works. I could spend all day there!

  • Is there an entrance fee to get inside? Just curious though. Anyhow, I bet that there are more things to see! I also find the museum really fascinating. If I’d be able to visit there one day, I’ll sure capture all those beautiful arts (including those not allowed hahaha but of course, I’ll keep it as memory and won’t publish it elsewhere).

  • Oh I love this museum! It’s such a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. Thanks for the walk down memory lane

  • ecorf_nancy
    11 months ago

    This article is very informative esp for students.. Would like to go there and witness how fascinating this place is. I am interested about their collections/ stuffs). I hope its not creepy as they say. Thank you for the tips and reminders.

  • The Prado museum promises to be a great visual experience. Goya, Picasso and other masters works are a sure treat for the senses. It is a pity that the works cannot be photographed.

  • Sounds like you were disappointed with The Ladies in Waiting as I was with the Mona Lisa. I enjoy sculpture much more than paintings, so I move through pretty quickly but some people do take in every brush stroke.

  • Wow, a half kilometer long line! That’s quite long but looks worth it. Museums aren’t always my cup of tea but this one is definitely world-class!

  • I love Madrid a lot, but (shame on me) I must admit I haven’t got a chance to see most of its fascinating museums. Thank you for sharing, now I know where to start next time 🙂

  • Oh, a walk down memory lane… I spent a whole summer in Madrid once and we used to hang out in the park in front of the museum so often 🙂 Good times! X

  • I have this on my one day list. Very informative and useful for my future trip!

  • Museums is one of the sights that we usually decide not to visit while traveling. Usually due to long queues and time limits. This one sounds quite interesting, even though we are usually not the biggest fans of art museums. 🙂

  • Thanks for the tour of Prado Museum – I’ll admit that we’re not often fans of attractions which have super long queues, but perhaps we can rock up early in the day to try and skip the crowds. I would love the opportunity to tour the rooms and enjoy the collection of sculptures and art 🙂

  • Velazquez is one of my all time favourite artists, right up there with Hobein and Ucello. And the Goyas in the Prado are marvellous. It’s truly one of the best museums in the world.

  • This looks like a wonderful art museum. We have been looking into Madrid lately, so this is a perfect read for us. Those statues are amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  • As I’ve previously commented from your blog, I love that you write about Spain! We have a very close relationship with the Spain in terms of culture. It’s also great to see that a lot of people line up for the museums. We need more of those!

  • Fantastic post 🙂 Prado has one of the most impressive collections in the world. I’m an art historian, so this place is like a paradise for me 🙂

  • The Prado Museum reminds me of the National gallery in London, for which an entire day would not be enough to visit. Researching and choosing the artists you want to see it’s such a good tip!

  • It’s a very descriptive, yet objectively satisfying narrative that gives us reasons and ways to head to the finest museum in Europe. A part of the Museum Triangle in Madrid, this surely seems to be something we shouldn’t have missed out on!

    Parampara-Parichay
    India

  • This is such a wonderfully written, well thought out piece. I like that you’ve given key information on all the questions I would usually ask! I’m amazed it’s grown so much, I would love to visit!

  • I love museums, especially old European artworks. I would love to visit Madrid, but I would also be avoiding the bullfights. I really can’t bear animal cruelty!

  • I love visiting museums and learning the history of each piece there. Since I cannot go to all of them, your post gave me glimpses of what to expect there. Prado Museum is worth-visiting. More power!

  • Great post! A lot of informative information about the museum and its history. It made me feel like I was there with you. Hopefully we can visit the Prado Museum to live the experience ourselves!

  • A visit to a museum is always a great sensory experience. This art museum must be one of the most visited in Madrid considering it is one of the best there. I sure hope I can visit Madrid and this museum one of these days.

  • what a great set of art.. I always fancy going to museum… I really appreciate the workmanship and craftsmanship offered by the artists. This is indeed a great place to visit and hopefully I can make it here someday!

  • What a great looking museum and stunning art too. Prado museum looks like the best place for art fans – I might have to give it a go!

  • Thanks for the visual tour. The museum is truly a haven for art lovers ! Would love to go there someday.

  • Great to see a glimpse of such a great museum. I can feel what you felt being there. Just to stand in front of great works by great artsts such as Goya or Picasso must have been goosebump inducing.

  • Waiting in such a long queue,but it must have been worth it.Thanks for sharing this Indrani.

  • I remember going to the Prado as a twenty year old years ago, hungover from the big night out before. I sat with a big bottle of water in front of this one, massive, thought-provoking painting and stared at it, for about half an hour. Then I went and ate MacDonalds. It was a good day.

  • Sounds like an incredible museum! Those works of art are amazing. I would love to visit Madrid sometime!

  • What a cool place. Very interesting and this is a very informative post. I totally missed it when I was in Madrid. I guess I was too busy drinking sangria and dancing the flamenco. Lol

  • This is one of my favourite memories of Spain! I don’t remember there being a queue like that! There is such fantastic art especially in Madrid. Thanks for sharing your memories too!

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