The Saint Trinity of Spanish museums, but also of Madrid, is made up of the Prado National Museum, the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
All three, besides being the three main museums of the capital and the country, are also among the best in Europe and the world. They all have masterpieces by great artists in their permanent collections and continually open temporary exhibitions showing the works on display. Each of them follows a style of their own, always including a period in the history of art as a starting point for collections. Two interesting details are that they are all in buildings that once had other functions and, coincidentally or not, are very close to each other, in a very central area of Madrid.
I would like to emphasize, because you can not miss the visit to these magnificent museums:
1- Museo Nacional del Prado:
Its creation took place in 1819 (it is the oldest of them), when the Villanueva building, which was born to be an Academy of Natural Sciences, became, after the Napoleonic wars, a museum to host many of the works of the royal collections. The intention was the conservation of the works, their study by the teachers and recreation for the public. Since the founding of the Museum, more than 2,300 paintings and sculptures, prints, drawings and pieces of decorative arts have been entered by New Acquisitions, mostly donations, legacies and purchases. The period covered in the museum began in 1500 and continues until 1881, although mostly pictorial, the collections also include exceptional sculptural testimonies, decorative arts and works on paper, from antiquity to the nineteenth century. The artists represented are among the best known in the world: that is why they often say that the Prado is a museum of painters and not paintings. Velasquez, Goya, El Bosco, Rafael, Tiziano, Fra Angelico, El Greco, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Rubens, Rembrandt. There is no great artist who is not in the rooms of the Prado. To visit it is to know the whole history of European art before the arrival of Modernism, the school that changed everything that happened before. Visiting Prado means knowing the past to understand the future of what would come after …
2- National Museum Reina Sofía Art Center:
The main building (the Sabatini building), where most of the museum is located, was created to be a hospital. Its construction began in the 16th century, and after many problems, it closed its doors in 1965. After surviving various rumors of demolition, in 1990 it became a museum of modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on Spanish artists. In 2005 a new building (built by the architect Jean Nouvel) was added, as well as outdoor spaces, such as the Crystal Palace and the Velásquez Palace, in the Retiro Park. The collection includes 21,000 works and at this moment more than 8,300 are in the permanent exhibition of the museum. There are always temporary exhibitions, which have the intention of promoting critical knowledge of the public in the face of new trends in art. But the best are the great modern artists in Spain: Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Picabia, Joan Miró, Juan Gris, Luis Buñuel, among many others. In addition, the most symbolic picture of the Spanish War – and of course the artist and Spain – is there: “El Guernica” by Picasso, which has a room only for him (and where no photos can be taken).
3- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum:
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum was inaugurated on October 8, 1992, in the Villahermosa Palace, not far from the Prado Museum. After a further expansion, in 2004, the museum has two large private collections of one of the most prestigious families in Europe: the Thyssen-Bornemisza. The plants are distributed in three levels: in the second is the Old Painting, with the Italian primitives, Renaissance and Baroque. Then, in the first level, come the Dutch school, American painters of the nineteenth century and representatives of Impressionism and its descendants. Finally, on the ground floor, is the part of the twentieth century, with Modernism and all its schools. Unlike the other two museums this is not a thematic museum, since there is everything from works from the thirteenth century to the eighties of the twentieth century. The artists represented are the most diverse: Carpaccio, Durer, Rodin, Degàs, Van Gogh, Canaletto, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Kandinsk, Lichtenstein, Derain, etc. Therefore, an unmissable collection, with great masters of painting and sculpture, which were gathered in just two generations and are among the best and most prestigious in Europe.
For general information about museums: