Culture: Madrid's Remarkable Small Museums


Though most travelers to Madrid make a point of visiting the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía museums, few find their way to the city’s wonderful smaller galleries. Here are four of my favorites.

Museo Cerralbo

Spanish aristocrat, art collector and archaeologist Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa (1845-1922), 17th marquis of Cerralbo, bequeathed his palace and collections to the Spanish state. Aside from the quality exhibits, this museum offers an intriguing glimpse of aristocratic life in Belle Epoque Madrid.

Calle de Ventura Rodriguez 17. Tel. (34) 91-547-3646.

Museo Sorolla

The Valencia-born painter Joaquín Sorolla was one of the most successful artists in 19th-century Spain. Strongly influenced by Velázquez and inspired by Mediterranean themes and light, his canvases often have a dreamlike quality. This museum in the artist’s home has considerable charm.

Paseo del General Martinez Campos 37. Tel. (34) 91-310-1584.

Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

This gallery, formerly the home of the fine arts academy, is located a short walk from Puerta del Sol and is one of my favorite museums in Madrid. Its collection includes canvases by Rubens, Titian, El Greco and Picasso, but the real standouts are the Goyas, including several superb self-portraits. 
open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. only.

Calle de Alcala 13. Tel. (34) 91-524-0864.

Museo Naval

During the 15th century, Spain became a dominant naval power and established a global empire. This fascinating museum next to the Prado displays naval instruments, model galleons and the oldest known map of the Americas.

Paseo del Prado 5. Tel. (34) 91-523-8789.

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