Competes with the Louvre
Prado museum, an institution dating back almost 200 years, houses more than 8,600 paintings, although less than 2000 are currently on display. The museum was opened to the public in November 1819, on the back of efforts of Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza, wife of King Ferdinand VII. It is said that queen was impressed with the Louvre in Paris and wanted to showcase an enormous collection in her own country.
Houses a formidable array of famous painters
The collections reflect tastes of Spain’s 16th and 17th century monarchs. Their favourite artists are represented in a superlative manner. The museum houses the largest collection of Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya. This explains why the Prado has been described as a museum of painters not of paintings. Spanish royalty loved the lush qualities of Venetian painting and hence you will find an especially sensuous collection at Prado.
Decide when to go, it helps
Prado’s Web site offers timed-entry tickets which saves you from long queues. Best time to visit the museum is when it opens at 9 a.m. or between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m., when many Spaniards eat lunch. Admission is free after 6 p.m., and the museum is open until 8pm most days. It is closed on Mondays.
A brochure outlines the important works
You can see the brochure-curated recommendation of paintings in about 3 hours, comfortably. It is a good idea to pick one up unless you have a specific section of interest that you are visiting for.
Buy the Official App
The Prado has an official app that literally does the job of a human guide, it is worth buying to enhance your experience at a fraction of the cost of an official guide.
One visit or Two?
If you really want cover the museum well, it will take you almost the entire day. Some people consider splitting their tour into two parts, with a break at the museum cafe to relax, or hanging out at the nearby Retiro Park, which in itself is a destination worth visiting. Though once you leave the museum you will need to pay again to enter.
Recommended sequence of tour
A good way to take in the unique works is to enter from the Goya section, cover the floor end to end and move up to the next floor at the place where you entered. It seems counter-intuitive but it is the better way to cover the most significant works.
What to cover and what to miss - set your priorities
A common sense approach would be to miss the categories or schools that the Prado is less known for and focus on what makes Prado the museum it is. So focus on the Titian, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya works. And spread outwards from there if you have the time.
Key HighlightsThe Prado is one of the greatest repositories of paintings in Europe, and it also houses an impressive collection of classical sculpture. It is the main museum of the 3 on the Madrid Art Walk.
Built to compete with the Louvre, The Prado houses the largest holdings of Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya. You will love the Prado, even if you are only remotely interested in art.
A large museum like the Prado needs a smartly planned approach to visit. Read more on how to make the most of your visit : When to go? Where to start? How to cover the best in one short visit?