What to know before visiting the golden triangle of art in Madrid

If you love all things European art, you’ve got to visit Madrid. The city is a haven for art and culture lovers, with dozens of world-class museums, galleries, theatres and libraries. It’s even home to the Golden Triangle of Art, which includes the iconic Prado Museum, Reina Sofía Art Centre and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. These are the very best of Madrid’s art museums and a must-see for all travellers. From the works of Velázquez to Picasso, here is everything you need to know before doing the Art Walk in Madrid.

What is the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid?

 

 

Three world-class art museums make up Madrid’s famed Golden Triangle of Art. This includes the iconic Museo Del Prado (Prado Museum), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Reina Sofía National Art Centre), and Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza (Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum).

In each of these stunning landmarks, you’ll find some of the world’s best collections of Spanish and European art. Whether you visit one museum or do the whole Golden Triangle, you’ll find yourself immersed in the rich artworks and priceless creations that have come out of the past 500 years of European art.

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Where is the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid?

All three art museums of the Golden Triangle are located by the Paseo del Prado, one of the city’s main boulevards and the oldest historical city street in Madrid.

It’s an easy walk along this leafy avenue, with an approximately 20-minute total walk time between all three landmarks of the Golden Triangle. Alternatively, you can take public transport to each landmark, and save your legs for wandering the gallery halls. 

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Prado Museum

 
 
 
 
 
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Known simply as ‘El Prado’, this is one of the largest and most iconic art museums in the world. Prado Museum opened on 19 November 1819, with a collection of over 27,000 paintings, borrowed from the Spanish monarchy. Today the halls are stacked with the greatest European masters, especially works from between the 16th and 19th centuries. 

You’ll find masterpieces from some of the most renowned artists of this era including El Greco, Ruben, Titian, Goya, Velázquez, and Hieronymus Bosch. Keep your eyes peeled for some of their most famous works, including “Las Meninas” by Velázquez, “The Third of March of 1808” by Goya, and “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch.

 
 
 
 
 
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You’ll also find works from Rafael, Ribera, Murillo, Tintoretto, Veronese, Zurbarán, and Van Dyck. Along with its 16th to 19th-century works, El Prado has exhibitions from many different areas. There are Greco-Roman sculptures, decorative arts known as Dauphin’s Treasure, and dozens of drawings and prints. There’s also plenty of temporary exhibitions every year displaying both Spanish and foreign artworks. 

As you wander the grand hallways, you’ll spot students and painters with their tools making copies of their favourite works. You might like to bring your own sketchbook – you never know when inspiration will hit in this great art museum.

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Reina Sofía National Art Centre

Opened on 10 September 1992 and named for Queen Sofía of Spain, El Reina Sofía is Spain’s national museum for 20th-century art. This is the place to go for 20th-century and contemporary pieces, including the world-renowned “Guernica” by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. 

Most of the works are by Spanish artists, including masters such as Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris and Joan Miró. There are also works by international artists such as Diego Rivera, Max Ernst and Francis Bacon. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Immerse yourself in the world of surrealism, expressionism and cubism and be sure to stop by the free-access art library. It features a collection of over 100,000 books, over 3,500 sound recordings, and around 1,000 videos. Fun fact: this art museum is located in a building that was once the General Hospital of Madrid.

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Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum began as a private collection in the 1920s by Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon and later, Heinrich’s son Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. With over 1,600 paintings, it was once the world’s second largest private collection after the British Royal Collection. 

The collection was originally housed in the family estate in Lugano, but the Baron’s plans to build an extension were rejected. The Baron began the search to find a better-suited location to house his incredible collection. He received numerous proposals from museums around the world. 

 
 
 
 
 
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In 1985, the Baron married Carmen “Tita” Cervera (a former Miss Spain) and he became persuaded to relocate his collection to Spain. He signed a contract with the Spanish government in 1988 and the museum opened its doors in 1992. The Baroness remains involved with the museum and she even chose the salmon pink hue of the interior walls. 

As the final piece in the Golden Triangle, Thyssen-Bornemisza is the perfect complement to El Prado and El Reina Sofía. It displays artists that are absent or underrepresented from the other two, including renowned European artists such as Rembrandt, Paolo, Duccio, and Rubens.

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Best time to visit the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid

You can visit all these Madrid art museums any time of the year. But there are some days of the week that are better than others to visit. Here are the current free admission days for each museum. Be sure to check the museum website prior to your visit for up-to-date information).

Prado Museum: Monday to Saturday, from 6pm to 8pm, and Sundays and holidays, from 3pm to 5pm. 

Reina Sofia Art Centre: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 9pm. Sundays from 15:00 to 19:00. Closed Tuesdays.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: Mondays from 12pm to 4pm.

When you travel on Trafalgar’s Best of Spain and Northern Spain, your trip includes a visit to the Prado Museum. Even better, you’ll be accompanied by a Local Specialist who will offer a deeper insight into one of the world’s greatest collections of European art. What is your favourite Madrid art museum or gallery? Let us know in the comments below!

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