The Prado Museum

Paseo del Prado, s/n
Tel. (+34) 913-302-900

Metro: Atocha or Banco de España

Opening Hours:
From 10am to 8pm: Monday to Saturday

from 10am to 7pm on Sunday and holidays 

From 10am to 2pm: 24 December, 31 December and 6 January.

25 December, 1 January and 1 May.

Free entry:
Monday to Saturday 18:00 to 20:00.
Every Sunday 17:00 to 19:00.


The Prado is one of the leading art galleries in the world. It has more than 7,600 paintings, but can exhibit only one part of its collection for lack of space. However a recent addition to the museum increased the space by 50%, so more paintings will be on display.

Charles III took the royal collections and tried to create one museum under one roof. It was his wife Maria Isabel de Braganza who influenced him in this decision because she was very interested in the idea of a museum. She could be called the mother of the museum. But it was Fernando VII who created the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture in 1819. Later the collection became the national property of the Spanish government and this became the Prado. Prado means meadow, and the museum got the name of Prado because there was an open meadow where the museum now sits. The museum has grown by buying paintings, and many collectors have left their private collections to the museum also.

During the Spanish Civil War, the collection was sent to Geneva for safe keeping and then returned to Madrid during the Second World War.

Besides paintings, the Prado also has collections of sculpture (1000 pieces), coins, drawings (6300), prints(2400), and other works of art. Only 1300 pieces of art are displayed in the Villanueva Building and 3100 works are on loan to other museums. There is a very important 19th century collection of art that has recently been displayed in the new building.

The Buildings

The old building is the Villanueva Building, named after its architect, Juan de Villanueva. This building was started in 1785 but construction was stopped during the War of Independence against the French. After that war the building was finished in 1819. The style of the building is neo-classic. The west front of the museum facing the main street, the Paseo del Prado, has a door called the Velazquez Door because there is a statue of the artist in front of it. There is a frieze above the door that shows an allegory of King Fernando VII as the protector of science, art, and technology, which are represented in figures and are located in front of his throne. Behind the king are the classical mythological gods Apollo, Athena, Mercury, and Neptune.

The new addition to the Prado was finished in October, 2007, and was done by the architect Rafael Moneo, who is the first Spaniard who has won the Pritzker Prize of Architecture. The new addition has a cafeteria, auditorium, and a book shop. In the new lobby one can find Greek statues from Tivoli. There is a new translucent, lantern-shaped patio and there are galleries built around this patio. On the top is a restored Baroque cloister which came from the neighboring San Jeronimo Church. This is now a sculpture gallery. The new addition is called the Jeronimos Building (also called the Moneo Cube, because its shape looks like a cube) and the good thing is that it does not clash with the architecture of the Villanueva building. The entrance to the Jeronimos wing is a massive pair of bronze doors by the artist Cristina Iglesias, which looks like thickets of vines. There is also a rooftop garden that has beautiful box hedges in a very symmetrical design. The best thing about the new addition is that there is plenty of space in its new galleries for big, temporary art shows. The new addition cost $219 million. The new building took ten years to complete because after it was started, they found that there was a stream running down the hill under the site. A technology fix had to be found to isolate the stream from the museum building. This took many years and increased the price of the addition.

Painting Masterpieces Not To Be Missed

El Greco

The Nobleman with his Hand on his chest

The Christ With the Cross

The Adoration of the Shepherds

The Holy Family

The Virgin of the Good Milk

The Crucifixion


Saint Bernard

The Trinity

The Annunciation


Saint Andrew and Saint Francis


Diego Velasquez

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor) - This is considered one of the world’s best works of art.

Las Hilanderas (The Spinners)

La Rendicion de Breda (The Surrender at Breda)

The Crucified Christ

The Infanta Margarita

The Infant Prince Baltasar Carlos Riding a Horse

The Infant Prince Baltasar Carlos

The Epiphany

The Triumph of Bacchus

Vulcan’s Blacksmiths Shop


Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes

The Third of May, 1808

The Clothed Maja

The Naked Maja

The Wine Harvest

Blind Man’s Bluff

The Parasol

Countess of Chinchon

The Duke and Duchess of Osuna and Their Children

Don Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos


Bartolome Esteban Murillo

The Good Shepherd

The Boys of the Shell

Virgin With a Rosary

The Immaculate Conception of Soult

Immaculate of Crescent Moon


Francisco de Zurbaran

Still Life (Bodegon)

St. Luke the Painter Before Christ on the Cross

St. Casilda

Vision of St. Peter Nolasco

Apparition of the Apostle St. Peter to St. Peter Nolasco

Defense of Cadiz Against the English


Jose de Ribera

Jacob’s Dream

St. Andrew

The Martyrdom of St. Philip


Fra Angelico

The Annunciation



The Cardinal

The Holy Family of the Lamb



Emperor Carlos V on Horseback

Empress Isabel

Charles V

Dane Receiving the Golden Rain



The Immaculate Conception


Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights



The Three Graces



Self Portrait








Rest In the Flight to Egypt


Jan Brueghel

Flower Bowl

Vase of Flowers With a Frog

Vase of Flowers With a Fly


Rogier Van der Weyden

The Descent From the Cross

The 19th Century Collection

The 19th Century Collection was not seen for the last ten years because of the construction of the annex to the Prado. Among its best works is the painting by Antonio Gisbert in a very large format, called Execution of Torrijos and His Companions at Malaga Seaside. General Torrijos was a Spanish liberal who returned to Spain and was captured by the royal forces. He and many of his fellow liberals were shot at the beach at Malaga, and ordered by the absolutist King Fernando VII.

There are historical works such as The Death of Viriato by Madrazo, The Testament of Isabel the Catholic by Eduardo Rosales, and Juana la Loca before the Tomb of her Husband by Francisco Pradilla. The 19th century portrait collection is very big and includes some outstanding works. Among the most important are Vicente López’s Portrait of Goya, Federico de Madrazo’s The Countess of Vilches, and Esquivel’s The contemporary Poets. There are also some beautiful paintings by Goya, Sorolla, Fortuny, Vicente Lopez, Jose de Madrazo (look for his painting of the beautiful Countess of Vilches), and Eduardo Rosales (look for his marvelous painting of the Condesa de Santovenia because one will fall in love with this painting).

The 19th Century Collection also has some very beautiful pieces of sculpture done in that century.

Sculpture Collection

There are more than 900 sculptures in the Prado’s collection. Most are classical (Greco-Roman), Renaissance and Baroque sculptures. There are also many works from the 18th and 19 centuries. Some outstanding sculptures are bronzes of Spanish kings and queens done by the sculptor Leoni, which are found on the top floor of the Moneo Cube.

Velazquez made a trip to Italy, specifically to buy art and sculpture, and he found a very large number of quality sculpture in Rome. This trip was on the behalf of King Felipe IV. Later King Felipe V bought the sculpture collection of Queen Cristina of Sweden in the 18th century. These were bought after Cristina died and her heir decided to sell the collection to the Spanish king.

Mario Zayas donated in 1944 a group of archaic Greek sculptures. The Prado recently acquired two sculptures of Epimetheus and Pandora by El Greco, who was not known to have done anything but painting.

The Decorative Arts

In the basement of the Prado there is a special place for the Dauphin’s Treasure. The Grand Dauphin Louis was the son of King Louis XIV of France. His son was Philip V, who became the first Spanish Bourbon king. When the Dauphin died, Philip V inherited this treasure and brought it to Madrid.

The treasure has more than 120 objects from the 16th and 17th centuries. Most are vessels for food and drinks. Many are made with semiprecious stones and gold or silver. This include jade, turquoise, and lapis lazuli. There are also objects made from hard rock crystal. All of these objects are very beautiful and artistic, made by the most famous craftsmen of those times.

Other decorative items in the Prado are 18th century pietra dura tables and consoles that were the mode at that time. There are also collections of ceramics, porcelain, glass, Chinese porcelain, enamels, Flemish tapestries, weapons, coins and medals.

Online Gallery

Look at the Prado website because they have an online gallery of the famous works of each painter in The Collection heading. One can search for any painter and find that painter’s most famous works that are in the Prado. As an example, do a search for Rosales and look for his painting of the Countess of Santovenia. Click on the image to see a bigger picture. This is one of the most beautiful 19th century painting that can be found anywhere. Read the very interesting story of this young girl. This online gallery is a wonderful teaching tool and one can look for the paintings one wants to see before going to the museum. Reading the history of each painting beforehand prepares one to enjoy more seeing the actual painting when one visits the museum.