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Museums and Galleries in Madrid

Madrid-Uno's brief guide to the plethora of museum and gallery attractions in the capital city.

Web links are shown where available. For prices and latest exhibitions news you should follow the links - most galleries and museums have an English section or make the directions and prices clear.

The Big 3

The Prado is huge and you'll never see everything in a day. Don't go on a Monday - it's closed. The Thyssen feels quite post-modernist, although the paintings housed cover all periods. A more accessible museum in that you don't feel so overwhelmed as you do at Prado. The 'Centro de Arte' Reina Sofia is for all you modern art buffs and also houses an extensive art library and a concert auditorium. It's mostly 20th century Spanish art and includes Picasso's famous Guernica.

The National Collections

One of the best is the Natural Science Museum - (MNCN) which is excellently set-up with some top exhibits, but be warned, if you're taking the kids there's not so much English language information.

Other Museums and Galleries worth exploring

The Royal Palace is impressive (particularly its gardens and the views over the city due to its position) and the Museo de América is good for anyone interested in the history of Spanish speaking America and the colonial legacy. The Museo Romántico, showing aristocratic life in the 19th century, is a neat little place. For a fuller exploration of that most warped of painters, Goya, then a trip to the Goya Pantheon is worthwhile. The Museo de Ferrocarril is for train enthusiasts and has a useful English section on its web pages. The Museo Tiflológico is Madrid's Blind Museum and is managed by ONCE the Spanish blind association. It is set-up for blind people so if you're sighted you might not 'get' all the exhibits. A small, incognito museum well worth a visit for its impressive collection of Spanish post-impressionist and early 20th-century art is the converted old home of Sorolla, to be found on Paseo del General Martínez Campos and with a delightful garden.

Armería del Palacio Real (The Royal Armoury)

Knights in shining armourThe Royal Palace is a big place and you'd be pushing it to visit everything in one day. One of the more interesting parts of it is the Royal Armoury, which consistently gets good reports and often surprises the casual visitor by its size as it's one of the largest collections of such stuff in the world. It encompasses Italian, German and Spanish examples and is well set-up, taking you through the various suits worn by kings like Carlos V and Felipe II and their knights, plus lots of swords, spears and other dangerous pointy things. The horse armour is impressive - it's a wonder the ponies could even move - and look out for the set of armour for the royal dog.

Museo Ángel Nieto

12 + 1One of the curiosities of Madrid is this little museum dedicated to the multiple world champion motorbike racer. Trophies, racing suits, some of the actual bikes he rode, including the famous 'Derbi 1', 125cc and all in red. It is said that Ángel Nieto won 12+1 world champion titles - because the number 13 is never uttered in this Spanish legend's presence. If you like motorcycling this place is for you. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:50 to 14.00 and 16:30 to 19:00. Av. Planetario, 4.

San Antonio de la Florida

San Antonio de la Florida building This is a church, not a museum or gallery, but it houses some of the most beautiful frescoes to be found in all Spain, a series painted by Francisco de Goya during the year 1798 on the ceilings and upper parts of the building. The most intense piece of work was done on the dome of the chapel - The Miracle of Saint Anthony - which was a great struggle for the painter who suffered from vertigo. He also painted a series of angels in opulent dresses of black, ochre and gold that cover the walls surrounding the dome. The church, one of the most elegant temples of neo-classical art in Madrid together with Caballero de Gracia chapel, was made a national monument in 1905. Open Tuesdays to Friday from 10:00 to 20:00 and Saturday to Sunday when it closes at 14:00.