6 Masterpieces You Can Only See in Madrid

A view of Madrid taken from the Cibeles rooftop
A view of Madrid taken from the Cibeles rooftop | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio
Lori Zaino

Madrid is full of epic masterpieces you just can’t see anywhere else in the world. From art to architecture and fountains to monuments, here are some of Madrid’s greatest masterpieces.

1. La Guernica

1. La Guernica
© Joaquin Cortes / Roman Lores for the Reina Sofia

Pablo Picasso‘s La Guernica may just be one of the most famous modern art masterpieces in the world, and you can see it at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The painting’s sheer size makes an immediate impression (it’s approximately 11 feet tall and 25 feet wide), depicting the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. Created in Picasso’s signature geometric patterned style in 1937, you can find a horse, a lamp and several people. It’s chaotic and overwhelming, and you may never get sick of looking at it.

La Guernica is the work of Pablo Picasso |© Joaquin Cortes / Roman Lores for the Reina Sofia

2. La Fuente De Cibeles

2. La Fuente De Cibeles
© Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio

This grand fountain and statue standing in the center of Madrid is an icon of the city. It was designed by famous architect Ventura Rodríguez in 1777 and sculpted by Francisco Gutiérrez Arribas. Cibeles, the Greek goddess of fertility and nature, sits perched on a chariot, surrounded by lions, a dragon and a bear (the last two were taken out in 1862). At one point in time, horses used to drink from the fountain. The statue was moved to the Plaza de Cibeles in 1895, where it stands today.

The famous Cibeles fountain and monument | © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio

3. The Garden of Earthly Delights

3. The Garden of Earthly Delights
© The Museo del Prado

Hieronymus Bosch‘s The Garden of Early Delights has been housed in the Museo del Prado since 1939, though the painting itself dates back to the late 1400s. This triptych (a three-part painting) depicts the joy and horror of life’s temptations. The left panel shows a scene of Adam and Eve, while the middle panel depicts a garden, filled with nudes, plants and fruit – a scene of lighthearted joy. The right panel chillingly depicts eternal damnation — punishment for all the fun had in the center of the painting.

The Garden of Earthly Delights | © The Museo del Prado

4. Puerta de Alcalá

4. Puerta de Alcalá
© Lori Zaino

The Puerta de Alcalá monument literally used to be the gateway to Madrid. This neo-classical stately “door”, inaugurated in 1778, sits at what used to be the very edge of the city. Nowadays, it’s a beautiful monument, but of course, the city of Madrid stretches well past the “gate” on all sides. Fun facts about the monument are that you can still see bullet marks and canon shrapnel in the stone, and Katy Perry performed her hit single “Firework” there during the MTV music awards in 2010.

Puerta de Alcalá on a sunny day | © Lori Zaino

5. Las Meninas

5. Las Meninas
© Museo del Prado

Las Meninas, painted by Diego Velázquez in 1656, is one of the most well-known paintings in the Museo del Prado and quite possibly the whole world, depicting the royal family during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain. Bringing a whole new meaning to “squad goals,” the painting shows the Infanta Margaret Theresa and her entourage (maids of honor, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs and a dog). Velázquez also painted himself as the painter.

Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez | © Museo del Prado

6. Palacio de Cristal

Building, Park

The Palacio de Cristal at night
© Felipe Gabaldón/ Wikipedia
Situated in the glorious Parque del Buen Retiro, the Palacio del Cristal is an iconic structure created almost entirely from glass. The building, which dates back to 1887, was designed by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco and was based on a similar glass palace built in London several years before. Intricate ceramic furnishings weave around the palace’s ironwork, creating a magnificent bird-cage aesthetic.

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