by Niels Klok
Warning: this post may offend Prado evangelists and/or defenders of its untouchable status.
Right, the Prado. Without a doubt, this is Madrid’s business card for art lovers – or any bus load of tourists, really. Known throughout the world as a must-visit, the museum contains a wide array of paintings up until the 18th century, with a strong focus on the Holy Trinity of Spanish painters (being Goya, Velázquez and El Greco). Flanking its very own avenue (indeed, the “Paseo del Prado”), the sheer volume of art presented to the public is overwhelming in its own right.
And this is exactly one of the Prado’s problems. No matter the sophistication of your art stamina, Madrid’s most lauded museum simply contains too much. I myself generally call it a day after 1½ hours max, and have a strong preference for anything exhibition-related to be a one-hour affair. Now, these numbers may vary from visitor to visitor, but regardless of your art-absorbing capabilities, I tend to propose a “Power Prado” tour, either as an orientation or as a means to tick the mother of Madrid museums off your list.
So, to turn your visit into a Power Tour, remember the following:
The key to the Prado, in my humble opinion, is strategy. The building lacks a clear structure, which may lead to you getting lost, coming across the same works twice or three times, thereby wasting valuable time and energy. Upon entering, get yourself one of those maps (Plano del Museo) and keep it handy at all times. Before embarking on your tour, please remind yourself to keep up the pace. Walk briskly, and try not to linger in places; this breaks your strategy and eats away your scarce energy resources – if necessary, mark the interesting spots on your plano and save them for a follow-up visit. Whenever encountering an art form that is not painting, savour it – they are few and far between, and will recharge your batteries for paintings yet to come. And, strange as it may seem, start with the basement (sótano) and move your way up systematically to the second floor (planta segunda) so as to build up momentum for the great Goya.
Next in our Prado series: the ‘Full Prado Power Tour’
Image of Prado courtesy Montrealais,Wikipedia