The Prado is one of the most famous museums in the world and one of the most visited Sights in Madrid. But it wasn't really meant to be an art museum. When King Carlos III commissioned the construction in 1785, he wanted to establish a science museum there. The construction took a long time (almost 35 years) and when the museum was finished, it housed art collected by the Spanish royal family.
The museum has an impressive collection of the great masters Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez and El Greco. Goya, in particular, has an enormous amount of work on display. His early work consists of portraits of the family of King Carlos IV. Goya was not very fond of the royal family, but take a good look at how he painted the faces: the portrayed are unflattering and even immortalised with a somewhat stupid appearance.
Furthermore you can see Goya's account of the revolt against the French in the works 'The Second of May 1808' and 'The Third of May 1808'. On the first Goya painted the revolt at the Puerta del Sol, on the second the executions of the insurgents. In the last years of his life, Goya became deaf and very lonely.
The most famous work of the Prado is named after Velázquez: Las Meninas, a self-portrait while the painter immortalizes the king and the queen. The royal couple can be seen in the mirror behind Velázquez. Picassoexperienced this as a wonderful work and made some copies of it.
This is by no means all that can be seen in the Prado. The museum also has a large number of works by Flemish, Dutch, German, French and Italian painters. These were collected during the time that these areas were under Spanish rule.
Website: Prado Museum
Address: Paseo del Prado
Opening hours: 10.00-20.00 (on Sundays until 19.00)
Consult the Prado Museum website for the latest price information and opening hours.