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Prado Museum, Madrid

Photo © losmininos. View all images in our Prado Museum Photo Gallery.
Photo © losmininos.
Photo © Cactusbones.
Photo © Cactusbones.

The Prado Museum in Madrid is one of the greatest art museums in Europe and even the world. Centering on the massive art collections gathered by Spanish royalty over the centuries, the Prado displays important Spanish and Flemish paintings, Classical statues purchased from Italy, medieval religious treasures confiscated from monasteries, and even some Romanesque frescoes taken from a Madrid church.


The Museo del Prado began life as a natural history museum, founded by King-Mayor Carlos III in 1785. Along with the adjacent botanical gardens, Carlos III envisioned the Prado would become a major center of scientific enlightenment.

The building was completed and opened to the public in 1819, by which time King Ferdinand VII was on the throne and the museum's theme had changed to art. Named the Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures, the museum was intended to demonstrate to all Europeans that Spanish art was the equal of any other nation in artistic merit.

Upon the deposition of Isabella II in 1868, the museum was nationalized and acquired its present name - Museo Nacional del Prado - inspired by the meadow (prado) in which it was built.

In 2002-07, a new building was designed by Rafael Moneo around the reconstructed remains of the cloister of the San Jerónimo el Real. The new space doubles the number of paintings from the permanent collection that can be displayed at one time.

What to See

The collection of the Prado Museum is strongest in Spanish and Flemish painting, but contains a variety of paintings from elsewhere in Europe as well as some sculpture and decorative art. Many of the paintings' subjects are religious, which range in tone from incredibly moving to completely creepy.

The galleries are divided into the following sections, which are color-coded on the free map visitors receive with admission:

Among the most famous artworks displayed in the Museo del Prado are these:

Although the Prado emphasizes Renassiance and later art, visitors interested in medieval art will find plenty to see as well. A major highlight in this regard are 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque frescoes from the Church of San Baudelio de Berlanga and the Church of Santa Cruz de Maderuelo. There is also a good collection of Spanish religious treasures from the late medieval period from Castile and Catalonia.

Quick Facts on Prado Museum

Site Information
Names:Museo del Prado; Museo Nacional del Prado; Prado Museum; Prado Museum, Madrid
Dates:1785-1819; 2002-07
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Madrid, Spain
Coordinates:40.413723° N, 3.692291° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Prado Museum

Below is a location map and aerial view of Prado Museum. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. Museo Nacional del Prado - official website (includes a printable floor plan)
  2. Museo del Prado - Fodor's Spain
  3. Museo del Prado - Rough Guide Spain
  4. Roger Collins, Oxford Archaeological Guide to Spain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 174.
  5. Museo del Prado - Wikipedia (July 2009)

More Information

Article Info

Title:Prado Museum, Madrid
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:01/19/2010
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/madrid-prado-museum/spain/madrid-prado-museum">Prado Museum, Madrid</a>