A capital full of things to do and places to see. Here we list just one of the many suggestions of what to see and do in one of the world’s most exciting capital cities.
EL PASEO DEL ARTE
Madrid’s rich cultural heritage continues to evolve rapidly. The city’s modern-day cultural life is fundamental to this change.
It’s no surprise that Madrid, which combines artistic tradition with an open-minded spirit, is at the forefront of Europe in terms of music, theatre, dance, cinema, art, architecture and design. With more than 70 museums, 30 theatres and 50 music and concert halls there is a huge variety to choose from.
One of Madrid’s best artistic itineraries, known as the Paseo del Arte (the artistic stroll) is bounded by three world-renowned museums: the Museo del Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum and the National Art Centre of Reina Sofía.
Physically all very close together, these museums are located in one of the most beautiful zones of Madrid and are very near to several distinctive landmarks: Atocha train station, the Botanic Gardens, the Paseo del Prado and the Plaza de Neptuno. They are also located very close are the Plaza de la Cibeles and the Puerta de Alcalá, arguably two of Madrid’s most emblematic monuments.
El Prado Museum:
This is one of the world’s best and most famous art museums. It was commissioned to be built be Charles III and was designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785, who projected it as a handsome neoclassical building. Its current collection is one of the largest collections of Spanish art ranking from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Paintings by Velázquez, El Greco and Goya are all worth a visit to the museum for themselves. There are also exhibitions of the Flamencan, Italian, German, French and English schools.
The museum has commissioned a new building that has been designed by Rafael Moneo (Pritzker Prize for Architecture of 1996; one of most prestigious architectural awards) and will occupy an area of around 17,000 m2. Its construction will cost in the region of 42.6 million euros. The main objective of the new building is to be able to display the art collections that, at the moment, can’t be displayed because of lack of space.
The Thyssen-Bornemisa Museum:
This museum contains over 800 works of art, ranging from the early Italians to those who were the vanguard of the twentieth century, covering the German Renaissance, Dutch art of the 17th century and North American art from the 19th century. It’s worth mentioning some of the unique works of artists such as Giovanna Tornabuoni, de Ghirlandio, Santa Catalina de Alejandría, de Caravaggio o de Hopper.
The collection, transferred to the Palace of Villahermosa in 1992, was acquired a year later by the Spanish State; this after arriving at an agreement with the Thyssen family. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum hopes to complete its expansion, which will create space for the private collection of the Baroness Thyssen, Carmen Cervera. The collection, with works dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries and includes works of Spanish and Universal art, will occupy 16 new halls to be located in the contiguous Palace of Villahermosa.
The project is the work of the Spanish architects Manuel Baquero and Francesc Plá.
The Reina Sofía National Art Centre:
Located in an old hospital and constructed by Sabatini in 1776, this important museum of contemporaneous art includes works of the most significant art movements of the 20th century such as cubism, surrealism, vanguard of the 40s and 50s, pop art etc.
The Centre holds important collections of Spanish art and sculpture by important authors such as Dalí, Picasso, Juan Gris, Chillida and Tàpies.
This is perhaps the most ambitious remodelling project. With a budget of 68.4 million euros, and the significant changes that will be made to the surrounding areas of Madrid including the Charles V roundabout, the work was completed in Spring of 2004 and comprises three modern constructions joined to the historic building of Sabatini. This increases the area for exhibitions by more than 50%.
Madrid recuperates historic views:
The process of change is completed by the remodelling of the roads delineated by the Prado-Recoletos.
In the 18th century, the so-called ‘salón del Prado’ was a meeting place for the people of Madrid who went there to see and to be seen. The axis Recoletas-Prado today is highly congested with traffic but will change its image dramatically thanks to the project by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza (winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize) and the Spanish architect Miguel Harnández León (Director of the Madrid School of Architecture).
The largest urban remodelling project of the Spanish capital tries – according to the project authors – to recuperate and improve the cultural, scenic and environmental values of one of the places that can be considered as the cultural golden triangle.