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Route of the museums


Without a doubt, Madrid possesses an incredible cultural allure due to its museums. A large part of the tourism that come to the capital is interested principally in the excellence of Spain's museum of painting, El Prado, as well as in a number of other museums of great or lesser importance, such as the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Reina Sofia, the Sorolla and more.



Museo del Prado
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Museo Reina Sofia
National Archeological Museum
Museum of Natural Sciences
National Anthropological Museum

In Madrid there are numerous museums (they can be consulted in the corresponding section of our page). To complete itineraries, each should select the type of museums that you wish to visit and from there get organized. We offer a fundamental route known in Madrid as the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk), and a second route that we will call the Science Route.


This route can be completed in a variable period of time, but it is clear that just the visit to the Prado itself can take more than a day if it is done with a bit of attention. A joint admission ticket is available for all three museums on the Paseo del Arte: the Prado, the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia. It is a visit that can be done in one day by being a bit selective of the pieces that you wish to see but in this way, obviously, all three museums cannot be in great depth.

The three museums are found at little distance from one another, for this reason you can go between them by walking. Shortly, the aspects of each one of the museums shall be discussed so that the visitor can know beforehand a few facts that may be of interest. Remember, to find out information about opening hours, prices, etc., you can click over to the section on museums of this web page.

Museo del Prado

This is, without a doubt, the most important museum of painting in Spain, and one of the most important ones throughout the world. The building in which the museum is found is Neoclassical and it was the kind Carlos III who commissioned its construction upon Juan de Villanueva in 1785. At first it was conceived as the Board and Museum of Natural Sciences and took its name from the place in which it was located (Prado or Meadow de los Jeronimos).

Museo del Prado

It was in 1819, during the reign of Fernando VII and thanks to the interest of his wife, Maria Isabel de Braganza, when the king decided to convert el Prado into a museum. At that time it was called The Royal Museum of Paint and Sculpture. In fact, such was the interest of Maria Isabel that she has always been considered the founder of the museum.

Upon Fernando VII's death, the museum pieces were to be distributed as inheritance between his two daughters: Isabel II and her sister Luisa Fernanda. For this reason, the first appraisal of the pieces in the museum took place. Isabel II bought her sister's share of the collection, avoiding its division. With this, it was decided to link the collections of the royal museum not to a person of the monarchy, but to the Crown, to avoid similar problems with its inheritance.

When, in 1868, Isabel II passed away and with her, the Bourbon monarchy, the museum was nationalized and thenceforth called the Museo Nacional del Prado.

In 1872, the museum's collection was enriched with around three thousand works of art when the governments of the First Republic decided to fuse the reserves of the Museo de la Trinidad with those of el Prado. The reserves continued to grow and there was no longer enough space for all of the pieces. For this reason, a lending policy to new institutions and provincial museums was established, which makes up some four thousand pieces and is called el Prado Disperso.

Near its centennial, the museum was given a Royal Patron, who would be in charge of cataloging and managing its objectives. In this way, the museum obtained a greater liberty of action, and thanks to the on-target exhibition policy, it moved in with the top museums of the world.

Currently, the reserves of the Prado painting collection are categorized into three sets: those that come from the royal collections (some 3,000 works), those that proceed from the Museo de la Trinidad (some 2,000) and the reserves of new acquisitions (more than 3,500 paintings). That is to say, in total, the museum possesses around nine thousand paintings, to which must also be added the numerous sculptures, engravings, tapestries, drawings and other pieces.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

The Thyssen-Bornemisza is located in the Palacio de Villahermosa in Madrid. The building was constructed between the end of the 18th C. and the beginning of the 19th C. It is a fine example of Madrid's Neoclassical architecture. The building was renovated by Rafael Moreno to adapt it to its new function as a museum.

Its works were gathered by the Thyssen Bornemisza family over a period of two generations. The majority of this collection was bought by the Spanish State in July of 1993. A small part of these works are exhibited in Barcelona in the Monastery of Pedralbes and the rest on the Palacio de Villahermosa in Madrid.

The collection is installed following a historical route. The order of the numbering of the different rooms indicated the suggested itinerary for the visitor. On the second floor, the Renaissance and Classic periods are presented, as well as the German, Flemish, French and Spanish painting rooms.

One of the most important sections of the museum is of Dutch painting, which is found on the first floor. In this room, one can encounter Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting.

On the first floor, we also find painting of all styles of the 20th C.

Finally, the basement is where we find the displays of temporary exhibitions.

Museo Reina Sofia

In September of 1992, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia inaugurated the Permanent Collection of the Reina Sofia National Center of Art, which until that moment had only been displayed in temporary exhibitions. From then on, these works would constitute the National Museum. Its objectives were and are to care for, increase and exhibit its artistic reserves.

Museo Reina Sofía

Nevertheless, the origins of the building that today house the museum go quite far back in time. In the second half of the 18th C., the architect Francisco Sabatini was given charge of the construction of a hospital. Sabatini, however, could not complete to project, erecting only part of what had been planned. After that and practically until our time, the Hospital suffered various modifications and additions, managing to survive in spite of the numerous demands for its demolition. Thanks to a Royal Decree approved in 1977, it was declared a historical artistic monument.

In 1980, Antonio Fernandez Alba began the restoration of the building. Towards the end of 1988, Jose Luis Iñiguez de Onzoño and Antonio Vazquez de Castro finished off the last modifications, most notably the three towers of elevators, of glass and steel, designed in collaboration with the British architect Ian Ritchie.

Museo Reina Sofía

Two years earlier, in 1986, the inauguration of some areas of the Reina Sofia Center of Art was celebrated, dedicating the celebration at that time only to the temporary exhibitions, under the direction of Carmen Gimenez, the director of the National Center of Exhibitions of the Minister of Culture.

In 1988, a Royal Decree converted the Center into a National Museum, substituting the Museo Español de Arte Contemporaneo. Its first director would be Tomas Llorens, who was substituted in 1990 by Maria del Corral. In 1994, it named Jose Guirao Cabrera as new, and current, director of the Center.


This is a second option that we offer for those who desire to tour museums of a scientific, rather than artistic, nature. We propose a visit to the museums of Natural Sciences, Archeology and Anthropology.

On this occasion, the distance between the museums is greater and therefore, the use of public or private transport will be necessary. We begin the route in the Museum of Natural Sciences and will continue through the National Archeological Museum, for which it shall be necessary to take transportation. The Archeological Museum is located behind the National Library (Biblioteca Nacional), adjacent to the Plaza del Colon. To get there, you can take any bus that goes down the Paseo de la Castellana in the direction of Atocha, for example, the 27 or the 14. In metro, get off at Metro Colon. After visiting the Archeological Museum, you can walk to the Museum of Anthropology. It requires about a 15- or 20-minute walk, but you can even extend the walk by going through el Retiro, the green lung of Madrid, which would make your visit even more pleasant.

Like the route before it, we will go on to tell a bit about the museums from a historical point of view.

Museo de Ciencias Naturales

The collections of the National Museum of Natural Sciences have their origin in the Royal Cabinet of Natural History, founded in 1771 by Carlos III. With more than 6 million specimens distributed throughout several collections (Mineralogy and Petrology, Invertebrate Paleontology, Paleobotany, Vertebrate Paleontology, Prehistory, Entomology, Non-insect Invertebrates, Ichthyology, Herpetology, Birds and Mammals), the museum can be considered one of the principal centers of reference for fauna, not only Spanish, but Mediterranean, not to forget the ample representation of exotic fauna accumulated in its collections as a result of the scientific expeditions realized in the 18th and 19th centuries. Besides these historical displays, the collections of the museum houses material that has been gathered much more recently, attained as a result of the different research projects that have been realized by researchers of the Museum in the last 25-50 years.

National Archeological Museum

The National Archeological Museum was created in 1867 by Isabel II through a Royal Decree. Numismatic (coins and currency), archeological, and other collections from the Superior School of Diplomacy had to be stored here. These had been united by the Spanish monarchs of the Austrian and Bourbon Houses and were in the Cabinet of Natural History of the Royal Library.

The first branch of the Archeological Museum was an old building situated on Calle de Embajadores called El Casino de la Reina, where the museum remained until 1895, the year in which its reserves were moved definitively to the Palacio de la Biblioteca y Museos (Palace of Libraries and Museums), where it remains today. During the years that it was housed in the El Casino de la Reina, the number of pieces grew notably thanks to the purchase of objects by the Scientific Commissions that traveled through diverse Spanish provinces and foreign countries, and the acquisition of a series of private collections, some of substantial importance.

The first transfer of collections to its current location was motivated by the participation of the Archeological Museum in the commemorative exhibitions of the IV Centennial of the Discovery of America. In 1895, under the presidency of Queen Maria Cristina, the National Archeological Museum was officially inaugurated.

During the 20th Century, the estate has increased thanks to donations, bequests of will, purchases, public subscriptions and pieces from archeological expeditions.

Throughout its history there have been several restructurings of the Museum, but the most profound began in 1968, considerably increasing its surface area and exhibiting its pieces with modern museum criteria.

Today the halls of the museum are organized by periods (Iberico, Rome, Greece, etc.). In the upper level, the library, coins and currency room and an area reserved for temporary exhibitions can be found.

Museum of Anthropology

In this museum, we can find the collections of diverse ethnic groups of the five continents. There is also a collection of physical anthropology. The base of its collections is the contributions made by the Spanish expeditions of the 19th and 20th C.

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