I did say that there would be a few words about museums in Madrid. Here is the nutshell: A number of great art museums, a fascinating museum of naval history, a cathedral full of interesting chapels and modern icons. Many of them allow the student to photograph the works.
Plan on the Prado taking a day by itself--wear comfortable shoes because the exhibit halls are mostly without any seating to rest on--but you can get a snack in the coffee shop without leaving the museum. They sell the catalog of the museum collection in various languages, get it and you can learn more about all kinds of things after you're home. The Prado is also near a really cool fountain in a traffic circle.
The Reina Sofia museum is about modern art, but it includes some Goya ink pieces from the early 19th century (printed in newspapers) that I found were my key to understanding a lot more about the modern art idea. Not that I am any more sympathetic to the said modern art. There some that I could have sworn were chickens--apparently they were smokers?
|This I got a kick out of. It's got the meat cuts diagrammed on the animals. Dunno why the unicorn horns!|
The Thyssen seemed to us a better museum than the Reina Sofia--covered a lot of similar time period--but we understood it better, so to speak. I think I remember a lot of neat still-lifes with flowers in one room. Also some harbor pictures. And portraits. One of the portraits is of the original museum donor.
If you can only do one of these modern-art museums, make it the Thyssen. Either one--Reina Sofia or Thyssen--will consume at least a half day.
The Museum of Naval History has a lot of cool models of ships, many cutaway, and a heap of portraits. As you can see from the name, this one is about history. There are old swords, cannon balls, helmets, and maps. It's a government building; they want to see your ID at the entrance. They accepted my driver's license with no problem.
The cathedral is a modern one, not an ancient one, and it has informative plaques on the walls of the various side chapels in honor of various saints. Some are martyrs of the 1930's civil war. The modern icons are painted on the sides of the dome, way up there, but they're large enough to see. They seem to me to adhere to the Eastern conventions of the genre as far as composition and content. The cathedral also has a painted ceiling that is kind of neat.
|Almost looks like the ribs of an upside-down ship from this angle|
The Museum of Decorative Arts was full of interesting things, but they had no gift shop that I saw, and it seemed to us like the labeling could have been more informative. There were samples of embroidery to be viewed, but you had to open the drawers to see some of them. There were also pottery samples--they had a card guide for that room, but you need to know about the pottery to understand why these pieces matter. There was some really beautiful woodwork.
|and more wow|
|Yum! And the Enrique Tomas store that sells these was just down the block from our pension.|