Category Archives: Art & Culture

San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos

Real Monasterio de El Escorial
The town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is situated in the Guadarrama Sierra, around 60 kilometres from Madrid. The main attraction of the town is the monastery of El Escorial, built by the Spanish King Phillip II to commemorate the victory against the French in 1557 and was considered the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. The monastery was the work of Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera. Like many other parts of central Spain, like Segovia and Avila, El Escorial is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was recognised as the political centre of Phillip II’s empire and was completed in 1584, the actual interior decoration wasn’t competed until the start of the 17th Century. The size of the place was meant to characterise the size of the empire: huge and the idea was to belittle visitors – it certainly succeeds!

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ARCO – Contemporary Arts Fair


On Thursday, 12th February the Queen of Spain, Sofia, will open the 23rd “Contemporary Arts Fair” – ARCO at the Juan Carlos I Exhibition Centre. On display will be works of art from 218 galleries representing 32 different countries, 93 of the galleries are Spanish. Every year one country has a special invitation and this year it will be Greece, which will be represented by 15 galleries from Athens and Thessalonica.

Opening Times
Thurs February 12th: 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri 13th – Mon 16th February: 12 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission Prices
Thursday 12th (afternoon) 19 €; Friday 13th – Monday 16th 23 €
General Admission + Official Catalogue (*) 50 €
Students: Thurs 12th (afternoon): 13 €; Fri 13th – Mon 16th February: 16 €
Line 8 – Campo de las Naciones
No. 122 from Avenida de América

Fundación Juan March – Exhibition of etchings and drawings


From the 6th February the Fundación Juan March will be putting on another high quality exhibition, this time with a selection of etchings and drawings from the Edmond de Rothschild Collection at the Louvre, Paris. The collection includes 84 masterpieces, which date from the 15th Century through to the 18th Century. Some of the more well-kown artists include Rembrandt (see above image), Raphael and Van Dyck. The exhibition is broken down into the following areas: 1. The incunables. 2. The Renaissance in Europe. 3. European Baroque. 4. Rembrandt. 5. 18th Century. 6. Revolution.

Opening times:
Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..
Guided visits:
Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m
Friday: 4.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m
Address: c/ Castelló, 77
Metro: Nuñez de Balboa (lines 5 & 9)

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum


The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum opened its doors to the public on October 10th, 1992 and was acquired by the Spanish state for $350 million in 1993. It is one of the three museums, the Prado and Reina Sofia being the other 2, that form the “Golden Art Triangle” of Madrid. At around the time of its opening the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection was considered one of the finest private art collections in the world. Even today few other world cities could boast a better collection than this.

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Exhibition of posters from the Spanish Civil War


The Círculo de Bellas Artes is displaying an exhibition of Republican posters from the Spanish civil war – around 300 of them. They are meant to display, to some degree, the values the government, politicians and unions sought to defened against the fascist onslaught. You will find posters from the PSOE political party, the communist party, the young socialists and the general workers’ union, amongst others. The exhibition goes on until the 24th March and whilst there why not go for a coffee in their cafe?

Opening Times
Tue – Sat: 11 a.m – 2 p.m & 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun: 11 a.m – 2 p.m
Entry Price: 1 Euro
Metro: Banco de España & Sevilla
Address: Alcalá, 42

Templo de Debod


Set on the western side of the city, the Templo de Debod is one of the most unlikely structures that you would expect to find in the capital. The temple is over 2,200 years old and was given to Spain as a sign of gratitude by the Egyptian government in 1968 – Spain having given assistance to Egypt in helping to rescue the temple of Abu Simbel in Namibia. The temple was dedicated to the god Amón. Entrance to the temple is free and the best way to get to the temple is from metro Plaza de España. The temple is particularly beautiful at sunset and affords views out to the vast Casa de Campo. I would suggest taking a stroll along the smart Paseo Pintor Rosales, which runs next to the Parque del Oeste, and where during the summer you will find ‘terrazas’ or street cafes/bars. The ‘Teleférico‘ (cable car) is also located on this stretch.

Metro: Plaza de España
Opening Times: 10am-2pm and 6pm-8pm during the summer and 9.45-1.45pm and 4.15-6.15 during the winter months
More Information:

Willi Baumeister exhibition


Willi Baumeister is known as one of the most important German artists of the 20th century and one of the most influential on Spanish abstract art. The Thyssen Museum, along with Caja Madrid and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus de Múnich have put on this exhibition, which consists of 92 works of his art, at the Sala de las Alhajas de Cajamadrid, just behind Puerta del Sol. The exhibition goes on until 22nd February and entrance to it is free.

Metro: Puerta del Sol
Address: Plaza San Martín, 1.

The Almudena Cathedral


The Almudena Cathedral, situated next to the Royal Palace, took well over a 100 years to complete. It was finally consecrated by Pope John Paul on the 15th June, 1993. Five days before the consecration of the cathedral the statue of Our Lady of La Almudena, patron saint of Madrid, was moved from San Isidro church to here. The Almudena will be the place where the King’s son, Felipe, will get married this summer.

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Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida – a Goya Masterpiece

On Madrid´s Paseo de la Florida you will find the Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, which aside from being the final resting place of the great Spanish artist Goya is also known by some as Madrid´s Cistine Chapel. The chapel was built on the instructions of Carlos IV and the ceilings of the chapel were painted by Goya himself in 1798. The frescoes portray a celerated miracle by Saint Anthony of Padua and are thought to be one of Goya´s masterpieces. As a means of preserving the original chapel the Madrid authorities hit on the idea of creating an identical chapel next door for the purposes of worship – this was built in 1928. The chapel is a good 10-minute walk from the Metro Príncipe Pío but is well worth it. Once you´ve looked around the chapel, you may fancy going to Casa Mingo which is located right next door.

Opening times
Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 2pm and 4pm – 8pm. Saturday/Sunday: 10am -2pm. Closed on Mondays and holidays.
Príncipe Pío

Craft Fair – Paseo de Recoletos

On the Paseo de Recoletos the annual arts and crafts fair of the “Comunidad de Madrid” is currently being held. There are over 200 stalls, with a wide variety of arts and craft mainly from greater Madrid area. You will find everyting from leather purses, art deco mirrors, a wide range of pottery, wooden clocks to wonderful children´s toys and avrious paper products. It is well worth a visit and the prices are very reasonabe for such high quality goods. The fair runs until the 5th January and you can get to it by catching the Metro to Banco de España and walking 50 metres to the start of Paseo de Recoletos. Whilst there I would recommend going to Café de Gijón (Paseo de Recoletos 21).

Círculo de Bellas Artes

Cafeteria pecera, MadridThe Círculo de Bellas Artes, built in 1919, on Madrid’s c/ Alcalá offers all kinds of cultural activities and exhibitions. Within this building is a very stylish café which looks out onto Madrid’s popular Alcalá street – well worth popping in for a coffee. The café makes you think that you’re in a time warp with its classic décor and traditional Madrid cafe chairs and tables and high ceilings. Check out the sculpture which sites in the middle of the floor and which appears as if the woman is coming out of the stone. I also love the very Madrileño waiters, dressed in their white jackets.

The Prado Museum

The Prado Museum is one of the finest museums in Europe. It is situated on the stylish Paseo del Prado, a lovely part of Madrid with the Retiro park just a short walk away and right next to the Ritz Hotel, the Palace Hotel, the fountain of Neptune and the stock exchange. It has some great art from artists like Goya, El Greco, Velázquez and Hieronymous Bosch. As it is a such a large museum, and can take an age to get around, you may want to consider making 2 trips to the museum (Sunday is Free!).

Tickets are priced quite cheaply 3.01 Euros / 1.5 € (Consessions) and it’s actually free on Sundays. If you’d like to do the ‘art triangle’ of the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía, then you can buy an art pass for 7.66 €

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