Triangle of Art in Madrid
Our tour begins at the Palacio de Villahermosa (Villahermosa Palace), turned into the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (48). The museum building is a 17th century Neoclassical palace, remodeled at the beginning of the 19th century and adapted by Rafael Moneo in 1992 to house this outstanding collection of Western art.
Continuing along what was formerly the front of the palace on the Carrera de San Jerónimo, we arrive at the Palacio del Congreso (49), settlement of the Spanish Parliament in the Plaza de las Cortes. It was finished in 1850 under the direction of Narciso Pascual y Colomer. Corinthian columns hold a Neoclassical pediment.
On the opposite side of the street, we find the Palace Hotel, built in 1912. Nearby at Calle Cervantes number 11, we see the Casa-Museo de Lope de Vega (50) (House-Museum of Lope de Vega), close to the houses where other renowned Spanish authors, including Cervantes, Quevedo and Góngora, lived. At Calle Lope de Vega number 18, we find an interesting structure, the Iglesia & Convento de Las Trinitarias (51) dating from the 17th century. The altarpieces and carvings are worth visiting. We now turn back in the direction of the Paseo del Prado to find the Fuente de Neptuno (52) (Neptune Fountain) with a statue of Neptune standing on a chariot wielding a trident. Ventura Rodríguez was the designer as well as for the Cibeles fountain; the sculptor was Juan Pascual Mena in 1780. On the semi-circular Plaza de la Lealtad is another of Madrid's finest hotels, the Ritz Hotel, inaugurated in a unique structure built in 1910. The Museo del Prado (53) (Prado Museum) is located in a neoclassical building designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785 and originally planned as a Museum of Natural History. It has been an art museum since 1818. Its ground plan is formed by a rectangle with two square structures attached at each end. The rotunda covered by a dome which lights the vestibule is worth a special mention, and in the center we can see a bronze sculture of Carlos V by Pompeyo Leoni.
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The Prado Museum contains the most important collection of Spanish paintings until the 19th century. We can admire masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya, Murillo, Ribera and Zurbarán, among others. In addition, it also contains bright examples of Flemish and Italian art. Continuing on the Paseo del Prado, we arrive at the Jardín Botánico(54) (Botanical Garden) which currently organizes exhibitions on botanical subjects. A variety of rare plants and trees can be seen. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (55) (Queen Sofia Art Center) is a cultural center located at the Calle Santa Isabel in a former neocalssical-style hospital restored in the 1980's to become the museum. Spanish contemporary art, as well as temporary exhibitions, may be seen here. It also houses the treasures of the former Spanish Contemporary Art Museum and is the showcase of the famous painting Guernica by Picasso. It also contains a large library.
Metro: Banco de España.
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