A visit to the best museums of Madrid will provide you with a good dose of the Stendhal syndrome. Oh, hadn’t you heard of the Stendhal syndrome? That must be because you’ve never been in a first class museum! The symptoms go as follows: your heartbeat speeds up, you start to feel dizzy, panting and with a feeling of dryness in your throat. You get shaken up inside as a result of setting your eyes on a work of art that stirs up all your emotions because of its sheer beauty.
Madrid draws millions of tourists every year, many of whom cannot leave the city without visiting the famous Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid, consisting of the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum.
The most famous of these three museums is the Prado, a museum that will always surprise you and that you can never get to know completely, no matter how many times you go there. It is home to one of the most important collections of paintings in the world, with the best of the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools of painting from the 12th to the 18th century. Among its treasures are gems such as the Meninas and the Family of Philip IV by Velázquez, the Majas by Goya and the Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch, besides works by the likes of Tiziano, Rubens and El Greco.
Halfway between the classicism of the Prado and the contemporary art of the Reina Sofía Museum is the perfect meeting point: the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It spans the history of European painting from its origins back in the 13th century to the late 20th century. This museum has many pictures representing the grand history of painting, including the Italian masters, German expressionism, Russian constructivism, late surrealism and the meticulous frivolity of Pop Art from the 1960s. Being able to admire Albert Durer and Paul Cèzanne just a couple of rooms away is simply fantastic—the history of art in a nutshell. Some of the temporary exhibitions they arrange are simply brilliant.
The paradigm of modern art can be found at the Reina Sofía Museum, fully dedicated to all forms of modern art. This museum houses approximately 16,200 works of art comprising an array of artistic techniques: around 4,000 paintings, over 1,400 sculptures, nearly 3,000 drawings, over 5,000 etchings, more than 2,600 photographs, 80 some videos, 30 installations and another 30 video-installations, 100 items from the decorative arts and 30 architectural pieces.
I assure you that you won’t regret this Tour of the Arts. Of course it is impossible to visit all three museums on the same day but if you’re well organized you can enjoy at last part of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art. And once you finish you can then go and relax for a while at the nearby Retiro Park, where you can reflect upon everything you’ve seen.
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