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Vibrant Madrid is one of Europe's great cities and from here Spain ruled its colossal colonial empire. Start with its trio of world class museums/art galleries — the Museo del Prado, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Prado is great for Spanish art, especially Velázquez masterpieces such as Las Meninas (La Familia de Felipe IV). The Reina Sofía displays modern Spanish art, Picasso's Guernica being the main attraction. The eclectic Thyssen collection covers medieval to contemporary art and includes big names like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Constable, Picasso, Sisley, Gauguin, ...

Vibrant Madrid is one of Europe's great cities and from here Spain ruled its colossal colonial empire. Start with its trio of world class museums/art galleries — the Museo del Prado, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Prado is great for Spanish art, especially Velázquez masterpieces such as Las Meninas (La Familia de Felipe IV). The Reina Sofía displays modern Spanish art, Picasso's Guernica being the main attraction. The eclectic Thyssen collection covers medieval to contemporary art and includes big names like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Constable, Picasso, Sisley, Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse, and Jackson Pollock. Within easy strolling distance of all three museums is the restful Parque de Buen Retiro. Madrid has some elegant architecture backing its splendid plazas. Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Oriente and Plaza de la Villa are three of the prettiest. Sit at outdoor tables and savor the city's fine food and drink. Madrid's nightlife is infamous and it has fabulous shopping from chic to offbeat. Its Sunday flea market, El Rastro, turns into an enormous street fiesta.

John Noble
About the Expert

John Noble is a coauthor of Lonely Planet's Spain, Andalucia, and Mexico as well as many other LP titles from Indonesia to Belize to Brazil.

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Now Happening in Madrid

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Madrid isthe capital and largest city of Spain located on the Manzanares river in the center of the country.
  • Language: Spanish, Catalan
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to July. August is super hot but hotel rates drop and museums are quieter.