A guide through Madrid’s Prado Museum

The Prado Museum in Madrid, at the heart of Paseo del Arte, is considered one of the best art museums in the world. However, the size of the building and the large number of artworks displayed there make it difficult to take a tour that meets everyone’s needs, especially in the case of newcomers.

Hence, today we’ll be guiding you through the most remarkable artworks in the museum. We won’t be able to see it all —one needs at least a few days to do so— but it will satisfy those who crave artistic fulfillment in Spain’s capital city. The Prado Museum in Madrid is one of the city’s main tourist attractions, gathering between 2 and 3 million visitors each year. Without further ado, let’s explore the treasures of the Prado Museum.

The museum’s art collection is organized following a specific criterion, generally on the basis of the paintings’ place of origin, but it’s more interesting to focus on the artists thesmselves. Our tour begins with a look at Renaissance paintings, even though the Prado’s collection encompasses pieces that go way back.

When it comes to the Renaissance period, we’ll find a self-portrait of Durero. He appears dressed in rich clothing, this way claiming the artist’s dignity with the aim of proving that their profession’s status overcomes that of an artisan. There are two other pieces we cannot miss here: The Descent from the Cross and The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The Descent from the Cross (Roger Van Der Weyden, 1436)

The former was created by Van der Weiden in the first half of the 15th century and it constitutes the perfect example of Early Netherlandish painting. Its composition, thoroughness and plasticity are some of the painting’s distinguishing features. Van der Weiden depicts in it a scene where Jesus is being taken off the cross by Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene and John the Evangelist; in the face of the latter, we can even see a stream of tears flowing down while he is holding the arm of the Virgin Mary.

The Garden of Earthly Delights is a complex artwork by Hieronymus Bosch, finished approximately in the year 1500 and currently exhibited in the Prado Museum.

The left panel of this triptych painting pictures the paradise of Adam and Eve, whereas the panel on the right side depicts hell. On the other hand, the centre panel renders our earthly world, and we can see there a series of meaningful symbols such as fruits and crystal items that allude to the ephemeral nature of pleasure, which many humans desperately seek. The painting intends to moralize the viewers displaying these symbols along with the respective punishments and torments that we see in the panel depicting hell.

The Garden of Earthly Delights (Hieronymus Bosch, 1500-1505)

After these artists comes El Greco, riding to and fro Renaissance and Baroque. In this tour we’ll stop at one of his most emblematic paintings: The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest.

This painting was recently restored, and it conforms the archetype of the late 16th century portrait. That can clearly be seen in the hand gesture and the pose conveying dignity. However, if there is a painting that most defines El Greco’s particular style, with its long mannerist figures and bright colours applied through loose yet effective brushstrokes, it’s definitely La Trinidad.

La Trinidad (El Greco, 1577-1579)

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