Learning About Art and Life at The Prado in Madrid

Learning About Art and Life at The Prado in Madrid (Part 1 – Touring the Prado with Context Tours)

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This post has two parts. In this first part I talk about a tour I took at The Prado Museum in Madrid. In the next part I discuss some of the life lessons you can learn from the art at The Prado.

I am not one for art. I know art is an essential aspect of any culture, and I love seeing public art. However, I don’t know much about fine art. Sure I can name some famous artists and works of fine art. If I go to an art museum though, I just end up wandering around without understanding what I’m seeing. Being an art newbie I was excited for a chance to go on a Context Tour of the Museo Nacional del Prado (also known as The Prado Museum) while in Madrid.

The Prado Museum, along with the Reina Sofía Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is part of the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid. The Prado focuses on pre-20th century art and includes with works from artists like Goya, El Greco, Rubens, among many others. If I were to go to The Prado on my own I would have skim through the descriptions, and I wouldn’t understand what I was seeing. With Context Tours, I got a tour led by an Art Historian. Plus each tour has a maximum of 6 people, which means you get a very personalized tour experience.

As it turned out (and very lucky for me) the other people who were supposed to be on my tour didn’t show up. This meant I got a private tour of The Prado (not the only time this has happened). My guide Barbara was fantastic, and the tour started well before we got inside The Prado. The tour doesn’t cover every piece of art or every room in The Prado. This museum is massive, and seeing every piece of art in depth would probably take weeks. That said we got to see some of the highlights of The Prado, as well as several art pieces and artists I wasn’t familiar with.

I don’t want to give everything about the tour away, but doing this tour was fantastic. If I had gone on my own I would have had no clue what I was seeing. When I look at art I don’t know what I’m looking at or should be looking at. While the museum has information plaques beside each piece (in Spanish and English), as well as paid audio guides it was nice to have someone in person, someone who knew about art to tell me about some of the pieces in the museum.

Outside The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Barbara showed me details on pieces that I would have never focused on if I was there alone. I learned about different art periods, different techniques, and the various “meanings” of different pieces, including within the context of Spanish history (something I won’t pretend to know a lot about). Best of all if I had a question or wanted more information I had an expert I could ask directly in person (rather than me trying to get on Google and sift through all the info there).

I’m still not an art expert and visiting art museums and galleries all day long will never be my thing, but I have little bit of a better understanding of some art pieces and artists after taking this tour. There’s something to be said for seeing a piece of art in person (when possible) rather than just looking at the postcard version of10 am or a picture of it online. I’m glad I got a chance to see the art at The Prado in person and learn more about it through Context Tours.

Things To Know
The Museo Nacional del Prado or Prado Museum is located along the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.  The Prado is open from 10 am to 8 pm daily, except on Sundays and holidays when it closes at 7 pm. Regular admission is €15. Context Tours offered me a complimentary tour of The Prado Museum, which included entry to the museum. All opinions within this post are my own.
While in Madrid I stayed at the Huespedes Dolcevita Hostel in a single private room with a balcony. There was a shared bathroom, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. The hostel was in the LGBT friendly Chueca neighbourhood and was a 5-minute walk to the Chueca Metro station. If you’re looking for a private room in Madrid at a decent price (I paid about $25 for my room/night when I stayed) I highly recommend this hostel. Of course, if you’re not on a budget there are plenty of hotels in Madrid that you can book here.

Have you been to The Prado Museum?

7 thoughts on “Learning About Art and Life at The Prado in Madrid”

  1. Alouise, it sounds like you lucked out with the tour! Sometimes the right tour makes a big difference. I didn’t make it to the Prado but I’ll definitely keep this tour in mind if I do.

  2. Sounds amazing having a private tour guide around the museum, i can say lucky you! I love viisting art museums when i go to different places. Never been to Madrid yet but for sure Prado is on my list to visit!

  3. Glad you got a private experience! Definitely walking along with an expert makes a huge difference as we could infer from this post. Will bookmark the tour company if we ever head to Madrid 🙂

  4. A private tour? Wow! That is super cool. The only time I visited Prado was on one of the free admission days when it seemed everyone hustled trough the museum quickly to see everything.

  5. The Prado is a mighty looking museum. We caught the Madrid hop on hop off bus from in front but never went inside. The art work on show I side is impressive I believe and the tour you went on sounds amazing.

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