The Prado and Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas

Madrid Travel Blog

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Today was our day to go to the great Prad Museum. It's the most important art museum in Spain, especially for Spanish Art. It's truely one of the finest museums in world. The only other must for the day was the ring at Ventas.

This morning was much colder than yesterday so, we had to bundle up!!!

We arrived at the Prado shortly after opening as to make the most of our time. We had no wait in line, an unusual thing here.

It was founded in 1819 and from this founding Madrid attracted the most refind and sensitive art lovers of the 19th century. In the Prado's galleries, the public discovered Velasquez and Goya and through them, the entire Spanish school. From that point onward enjoyed a new esteem among critics and art historians worldwide.

El Greco would be soon added to these Spanish masters. The museum also houses extremely important holdings of the work of other European artists as a result of the collecting interests of the Spanish Monarchy. It is consequently impossible to gain a profound knowledge of the work of Titian, Rubens, or Bosch without visiting this venerable institution. 

Photography is not allowed but, I will tell you about a couple of my favorites.

1. The Nobleman with his hand on his chest - El Greco (1580) This is his finest portrait, in my opinion.

2. The Annunciation (High Altar of the College of Dona Maria de Aragon) - El Greco (1597 - 1600)  This is El Greco at his expressive best.

3. Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan - Diego Velasquez (1630) This painting demonstrates all of the lessons he learned from Michelangelo.

4. Saturn devouring his Son - Francisco De Goya (1821-1823) A great expression of brutality

5. The Dead Christ supported by an Angel - Antonello Da Messina (1475-1476) Introduced Dutch style of painting to Italy even though he never visited the low countries.

6. The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hieronymus Bosch (1500-1505) Meant to inspire moral relfection. It is a bizarre world of unearthly scenes.

Upon leaving the musuem, we tried to visit the church that's up the hill behind it and we arrived at the moment that they were closing, next time.

So on to Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, built in 1929, with a seating capacity of 25,000 is seen as the home of bullfighting in Spain. It is build in a Neo-Mudejar but, with cermaic detailing. It replaced an older ring that dated from 1874.

It's quite a unique structure with fantastic details. There is a great sculpture of a matador and bull, mid fight, in the front.

We headed back to the Old Town and to the Plaza Mayor. The sun was setting and I wanted to experience that ambience one more time. From there we headed to the famous San Miguel Market. It was built between 1913 and 1916 but, the place has been a market since the 12th century. They have a lot of seafood, fruits, veggies, and seasonal treats. The desserts are quite amazing. Just look at the fruit tart......yummmm yummm. As we were leaving we spotted a colorful fresh seafood bar. Don't want any.....but, it was lively and interesting.

From there we went to a Madrileno institution, The Chocoloteria, a cafe known for it's rich, thick, hot chocoloate and churros (an exturded star shaped doghnut) that has been it's mainstay since 1894.

There are two other cafes next door serving the same menu but, The Chocoloteria is the cafe with the line out the door and extending down the passageway. We wait our turn but, the place is packed. There is no room to move or even put the cup down to dunk your churro. You just have to stand in your tiny space and do your best. I had heard about this place from Samantha Brown on her trip to Madrid. I passed it when I was here in 2008, on a bike tour, but, could not find it when I returned on foot. I was trhrilled to finnaly have my hot chocolate and churro. It was as delicious as you said, Samantha.

It was getting late, now, and we had an early flight in the morning. So, we decided to make our way back to the hotel.....a challenge. The streets were packed, as packed on this Sunday night as it was on Friday and Satureday night.

It might have been even more packed. The crowds near the department store with the animated display was insane. It deserved another picture.

Luckily the hotel is near......we just had to make it through the crowd.

At the hotel, we asked for a taxi for 05:00 to take us to the airport. Then it was a quick packing job, of all of our books and treasures. By 21:00, we were able to lay down and soon were fast asleep.

Monday morning, December 14th, 2009

The taxi was waiting for us when we came down to the lobby in the morning, yeah! The airport was only about 20 minutes, this early in the morning. Rob slept a bit on our flight back but, I was unable to. I just wrote abit about our weekend.

It started out quite tragic but, I'm glad that we were able to work beyond that and enjoy the fantastic city, that I remembered.

The food was great, the Prado, always great, the festive lighting was spectacular, and the sights are always dramatic. The only negatives were the dangers of the metro and the terrible crowds. I don't think I will return at this time of year. I think next time should be spring or fall but, I must return as Madrid calls to me.


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Since 1894 - The Chocoloteria
Since 1894 - The Chocoloteria
Im having a hot chocolate and chu…
I'm having a hot chocolate and ch…
photo by: vulindlela