Points of Interest
Museo del Prado
The Prado Museum opened for the first time on November 10, 1819. Thanks to the determination of María Isabel of Braganza, married to King Fernando VII, the building that Juan de Villanueva had initially designed to house the Natural History Cabinet finally accommodated an important part of the royal collections. Years of private donations and acquisitions enlarged the museum's collection.
During the Spanish Civil War, the artworks were protected against potential bombings with sacks of sand and stored in the basement of the museum. In the end, as recommended by the League of Nations, the collection was taken first to Valencia and then to Geneva, although the paintings were quickly returned to Madrid when the Second World War broke out.
The former Villanueva building accommodates a good part of the painting, sculpture and decorative arts collections. Right behind it, around the Cloister of Los Jerónimos, architect Rafael Moneo constructed a series of galleries that accommodate temporary exhibitions, restoration workshops, an auditorium, a café, a restaurant and offices. El Casón del Buen Retiro, once the dance hall of the now-disappeared Palace of El Buen Retiro, is also part of the museum. The edifice currently accommodates a library and a reading room for researchers.
In short, the Prado Museum is a must for art lovers.