Cracking the Prado Museum

How to Get In and Out in No Time!

When it comes to museums and traveling, sometimes they start to look the same. So before you keel over from exhaustion or blisters or boredom, check out this sneaky road map, featuring some of the top paintings at the Prado. Then let us know how you feel about art history…

The Prado is one of the most recognized art museums in the entire world. In addition to the list about the permanent collection below, definitely be sure to check out the Prado website before you go, in case there is a special exhibition up that might interest you. Depending on the popularity of the special exhibit, you might have to buy tickets ahead of time. Keep reading for information hours, ticket prices, and for the inside scoop on when to get in free.

Not-To-Be-Missed aka “The Masters” or in Spanish ” Los Cracks”

1. Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights

This painting is a triptych – meaning its a 3 in 1 – think shampoo/conditioner/body wash combo, except this painting is anything but simple! It’s super over the top and insanely modern for the time it was painted (1500-1505). Look at it from left to right. The left is the Garden of Eden – see Adam and Eve and their little enemy the snake in the corner? The middle panel is Earth, which Bosch thinks of basically as an old-school play boy mansion, so lots of naked people and fertility symbols. The last panel is what Bosch imagined as Hell. On the top you can see fire and below you can see specific “sinners”- like a pig dressed as a clergyman and gamblers. See how many you can find!

The Garden of Earthly Delights// Wikipedia

2. Velazquez: Las Meninas

Velazquez’s painting is possibly the most famous painting in the whole museum. Meninas means maids of honor in Spanish. No, not for your wedding though. These were the women who helped the princess. In the middle is the Princess Margarita, surrounded by her two meninas, a midget, a dwarf, and a dog. On the left, Velazquez painted himself into the painting. This kind of selfie was a pretty ballsy thing to do at the time. Its an assertion of his own status as a royal painter and of painting as an intellectual activity, rather than a manual one (that’s why he is thinking, not painting). This idea is further emphasized by the reproduction of famous paintings on the back wall that celebrate painting and art. Oh, one last thing, that red cross on his chest is of the the Order of Santiago. Yes, like that big city in Northern Spain with the cathedral that hundreds of people walk to every year. Who else is in this painting? See that teeny, tiny mirror back there with two people? They are the King and Queen.

Las Meninas 01.jpg

Las Meninas // Wikipedia

3. Goya: The 3rd of May and the The 2nd of May

Like Velazquez, Goya is one of those Spanish painters whose names are practically synonomous with Spanish art. He has tons of fantastic paintings in the Prado Museum, and there is actually a statue of him outside, as well. So, in an attempt to narrow it down to his most well known, check out: The 3rd of May (1814) and the The 2nd of May  (1814), which celebrate Spain’s efforts against Napoleon in 1808.

As a sidenote, Malasaña is where a big battle happened on the 2nd of May in Madrid and is named after a young woman, Manuela Malasaña, who fought against Napoleon. Check out PINC International’s guide to Malasaña.

Image result for 3rd of may goya wiki

The Third of May // Khan Academy

4. El Greco: The Annunciation

We understand that sometimes religious art is not exactly at the top of your list on a Saturday, but El Greco really should not be missed. Although he was not Spanish, he was a huge influence in European art and culture, more generally. El Greco, which means The Greek, is known for his eery colors, elongated bodies, ability to convey movement, and vertical compositions. This piece speaks to all of these.

El Greco: The Annunciation

The Annunciation // artbible.info

Others Not-To-Be-Missed:

  • The Family of Charles IV (1800): This is another one of Goya’s most famous works. It is a family portrait, however it’s not exactly flattering.

    Image result for the family of charles iv goya

    The Family of Charles IV // Franciscogoya.com

  • Black Paintings: these were Goya’s last paintings and they are universally dark. In general, they are a bit scary. Check out Saturn Devouring His Son … that name gives you a pretty big hint as to the kind of art that Goya was doing at this time.

    Image result for saturn devouring his son

    Saturn Devouring His Son// Wikipedia

  • The Clothed Maja// The Naked Maja: These paintings are beautiful! But, the reason we like them is actually because of their history. They were actually confiscated during the Inquisition, but before that, the patron, Godoy, used to display the nude Maja in a separate room along with other famous nudes. He only invited select guests in an attempt to protect the painting.
The Clothed Maja

The Clothed Maja // Wikimedia Commons

Hours

Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Tickets

General ticket price = 15 euros

Reduced prices are 7.50 euros

When is it free? In the evenings the general collection is free, but with a student ID, the general collection is always free – So take advantage!

 

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About the Author

Anna Whetzle is a native New Yorker currently teaching English in Madrid, Spain. She graduated from Bates College, a small liberal arts college in Maine, where she studied history and Spanish, but mostly just tried to stay warm. After graduation, she packed up and moved to Spain. She loves traveling (experiencing the different places mostly through getting lost/ food/ history/art in that order) and meeting new people. Feel free to connect with her on social media and to check out her other articles!

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