Museo del Romanticismo
Hidden away in the Chueca neighbourhood and housed in a late 18th-century mansion is Madrid’s Romanticism Museum. It has a wide-ranging collection dedicated to the Romantic period of the 19th century, featuring everything from paintings and furniture to books, photos and porcelain. Don’t miss its beautiful interior courtyard café, which serves up lovely breakfasts, lunches and drinks during the summer months. The 100-person limit inside the museum means you can browse in relative peace.
Museo del Romanticismo, Calle de San Mateo, 13, 28004 Madrid, Spain, +34 914 48 10 45
To the north of Madrid, close to the Cuatro Torres (four towers) business district is an exhibition space run by the Fundación Canal, a foundation dedicated to the defence of the environment. The organisation hosts varied and always fascinating temporary exhibitions, and entrance is free. Recent exhibits include a retrospective of American photographer Vivian Maier (who only found fame when her photographs were discovered after her death), Picasso and the Mediterranean and Barbie: More Than Just a Doll. Take the metro to Plaza de Castilla.
Fundación Canal, Calle Mateo Inurria, 2, 28036 Madrid, Spain, +34 915 45 15 01
Espacio Fundación Telefónica
Set in the iconic Telefónica Building, Europe’s first skyscraper, on Madrid’s Gran Vía, this modern space, with unique architectural details, was inaugurated in 2012 and showcases 21st-century art, culture, music and technology, with regular exhibitions, talks and workshops. There is a permanent exhibition on the history of telecommunications, and recent exhibitions include 100 Years of Leica (the first portable camera that went on to become an iconic brand).
This lovely museum, a firm favourite with locals, showcases the work of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863–1923) in the artist’s former home. The rooms are still furnished as they were when Sorolla was alive, allowing visitors to explore the artist’s studio. Sorolla is known for his portraits and dreamy landscapes, as well as important works of social commentary. Don’t miss the museum’s gardens, a tranquil spot in the middle of the busy city.
Museo de la Historia de Madrid
The Museum of the History of Madrid sits in one of the best, and most elaborate, examples of baroque architecture in the city. The 18th-century pink-coloured building was originally an orphanage, designed by Spanish architect, Pedro de Ribera. Today, it houses a unique museum dedicated to the history of the city from when it was declared the capital of Spain in the 16th century. One of the highlights is Francisco de Goya’s painting Alegoría de la villa de Madrid.
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San Isidro Museum
This small, free museum in the heart of the La Latina neighbourhood is worth a look around to learn more about Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, and the history of the city all the way back to prehistoric times. The museum also houses the Pozo del Milagro (Well of the Miracle) where San Isidro is said to have saved his son from drowning after he fell in by raising the waters through prayer.
San Isidro Museum, Plaza San Andrés, 2, 28005 Madrid, Spain, +34 913 66 74 15
Palacio de Abrantes
The 17th-century Palacio de Abrantes was built for a Spanish nobleman, Juan de Valencia el Infante, who boasted the intriguing title ‘Great Spy of the Secret Council of His Majesty’. Today, the palace is home to the Institute of Italian Culture, where you can take Italian classes, catch an Italian film or simply enjoy an espresso in its stylish café. The palace also has a hidden gem – part of Madrid’s original city walls.