Only two kilometres away from Génova 5 you can find one of the most important museums in Europe: the Prado. Opened to the public on November 19th 1819 as the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture, the Prado National Museum celebrates its 200th birthday this year and accordingly it has prepared a comprehensive commemorative programme which includes special exhibitions, film series, open art projects, dance shows, concerts and theatre performances. These activities take place mainly in the museum itself, but some will also hit the streets of Madrid.
The educational side of the programme includes online courses, a summer course, a good number of lectures, didactic visits, itineraries revolving around the buildings that make up the museum and the formation of a collection and conferences on interesting topics such as the protection of heritage in armed conflicts.
Bicentenary celebrations aside, the Prado is a museum that is worth at least a visit in your lifetime. The main building, called Villanueva Building, was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785, by orders of Charles III, to house the Natural History Cabinet and the Academy of Sciences, but after the vicissitudes of the Napoleonic Wars, Ferdinand VII ordered its restoration for the conservation of the royal collections. Back then, there were only three exhibition halls but the museum has been growing ever since, both enriching its catalogues and expanding its space. It occupies currently five buildings, conforming the so-called Campus del Prado: the Villanueva Building, the Jerónimos Cloister (a Rafael Moneo’s project) and the Salón de Reinos of the Buen Retiro Palace are devoted to the conservation and exhibition of the collections, the Casón del Buen Retiro houses the Study Centre for the museum, and the administrative building is located in Ruiz de Alarcón street.
The art gallery holds the finest Spanish painting collection in the world, with works by Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Zurbarán or Murillo, among many other artists, as well as masterpieces by Italian and Flemish artists as important as Botticelli, Raphael, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Rubens or Van Dyck, just to name a few. Prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures and decorative arts pieces complete the permanent collection of the museum, which in addition features at least two temporary exhibitions a year.