I think a lot of people are surprised how much there is to do/see in Spain, particularly if you’re willing to spend some time traveling. It really is one of the most underrated travel locations! Like nearly every country in the world, there are different cultures, weather, and experiences in different regions. When planning our trip we knew we needed to start in Madrid to get affordable flights, and end in Madrid as well to get ourselves home. We loved catching up on jet lag there for our first afternoon, spending a full day in Toledo for day two, and then planning one half-day activity before we traveled across the country and headed up to Barcelona on a several hour train ride that would get us in late.
Seeing the Prado is a perfect half day activity, and it may be my favorite museum in all of Spain, and I’d say in the top five in the world!
Some of the most famous paintings in all the world are housed in the Prado, and the museum curator did an amazing job organizing by artists and periods, so it’s pretty easy to follow Spain’s history through art just by reading museum guides.
We couldn’t take pictures through most of the museum, but I have to say my absolute favorite was Goya, and you can see some of his stuff online here. He was commissioned by the Royal Family of Spain to paint them and their history, think an ancient version of today’s White House photographer. Spain, once the richest country in the world, was having most of the countries in South and Central America declaring independence, and revolutions were happening all over the world. In this time the Royal Family apparently didn’t do much to change with political times, or economic loss, and lived their lives in what Goya saw as frivolity. His paintings mocked their neglect and indulgent life, and also poked fun at inbreeding and domineering queens, all while his paintings remained jaw-droppingly beautiful. Somehow he managed to impress the Royals while mocking them in ways they never picked up on. It’s brilliant, it’s interesting, and each painting is just stunning. I loved the entire Goya exhibit, and I’m glad we got to spend the bulk of our time in these rooms.
There’s a lot more to see than just this, and the paintings that tell one of the most interesting histories of the world is well worth the time!
I don’t want to name names, but one of us who typically isn’t the biggest art fan agreed he still was in awe of and thoroughly enjoyed the Prado!