- a travellers guide to Spain
and art galleries
El Greco - detail from
the Burial of the Count of Orgaz, Santo Tomé church, Toledo
Spain was once the most
powerful and richest nation in Europe, and is also the cradle of one of
the world's great
cultures. In bygone centuries, the great men and great families of
Spain - like those in other parts of Europe - amassed considerable
fortunes, and spent some of their money commissioning or acquiring
works of art. The Catholic church in Spain was also a great patron of
the arts. Today, while some of the treasures acquired or commissioned
in past times remain in private hands or in churches, sometimes
inaccessible to visitors, most of the major works of art acquired from
the time of the Reconquest
onwards are now in public collections or collections on view to the
In addition, Spain - since the start of the
twentieth century - has given the world some of its most emblematic and
original artists - notably Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, many
of whose works can be admired in museums and galleries in different
parts of Spain.
As in most countries, the main art
galleries in Spain are located in big cities, notably Madrid, Barcelona
and Bilbao: but there are other interesting galleries outside of these
locations. The following list offers a selection of the best and most
interesting museums and art galleries in Spain.
Best rates on
hotels in Spanish cities
most impressive and significant museums and art galleries in Spain.
(Madrid) : Spain's
national museum, and one of the best in Europe.Remarkable collection
of European painting including iconic works by the Flemish artists
Breughel the elder and Hieronymus Bosch as well as works by all major
Spanish old masters.
- The Surrender of Breda - Prado museum, Madrid
Reina Sofía, Queen Sofia Museum (Madrid) -
The Spanish museum of 20th century art, particularly visited
account of its great Picasso and Dali collections. Highlight of the
museum is Picasso's monumental and iconic Guernica - a statement on the
horrors of war, in this case the Spanish Civil War.
Museum. (Madrid) .
Opened in 1992 this museum is based on what was formerly the
world's second largest collection of old masters in private hands. It
contains a rich collection of works from the European Renaissance, and
fom the French impressionists and German Expressionists, but plenty
more too. Highlights include works by Van Eyck, Holbein, Titian,
Rembrandt, Monet, van Gogh.
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monastery of El Escorial (near
Madrid). The monastery houses a world-class collection, including major
works by Hieronymus Bosch, Titian, Dürer, Velasquez, El Greco
Rogier van der Weyden.
de Santa Cruz (Toledo, Castilla la Mancha) :
A fine collection of classic Spanish art, including many works by
Toledo's most famous painter El Greco. More of El Greco's paintings are
in the El Greco museum
and the church of Santo
Tomé, which houses the celebrated Burial of the
Count of Orgaz (photo top of page - extract)
Museum (Barcelona, Catalunya) .
With more than 3,500 works by Picasso, this museum is the world's
greatest collection of the artist's work, and includes some of his most
famous paintings, in particular from his early years - including the
"Blue period" - between 1890 and 1917.
Art Museum of Catalonia (Barcelona)
- Catalonia's national gallery, with a representative collection of
Spanish art as well as works from other parts of Europe, and
course works by the major artists of Catalonia including Picasso and
Miro Foundation (Barcelona) -
Almost 400 paintings and sculptures,plus textiles and
one of Spain's most remarkable painters. The museum also contains
almost complete collection of Miro's graphic works and
of drawings, plus a small collection of works by contemporaries such
as Max Ernst, Fernand Léger,
André Masson and
museum (Bilbao, Pais Vasco) -
One of the world's great contemporary art museums, opened in 1997. The
museum is particular strong on special exhibitions of work by
contemporary artists and plastic artists. The building itself, designed
by Frank Gehry, is considered to be one of the iconic structures of
late 20th century architecture.
de Ribera - San Jeronimo, detail. Thyssen Bornemisza Museum Madrid
Arts Museum / Museo de Bellas Artes (Sevilla - Andalucia)
- A medium-sized rounded collection of essentially
including works by the major Spanish painters - Murillo, Zurbaran,
Velazquez, El Greco, Ribera, Valdés Leal, Goya.
Monastery of Guadalupe (Extremadura)
- One of Spain's top pilgrimage sites, the Monastery - a UNESCO world
heritage site - contains a collection of paintings and artefacts,
including works by Goya and El Greco.
Spain has plenty more art
galleries and museums, many of them quite small and only listed in
local tourist brochures. Some of these are included on the
About-Spain.net regional pages. One that also deserves a mention here
is the Salvador Dali
at Figueres, between Barcelona and the French
Spain's museums and art galleries : list from the Spanish information site
over 150 museums and galleries of all sorts, but the list is
by no means complete.
types of museum: Spanish