Madrid Museums and Parks.

I recently spent a few weeks in Madrid taking care of the cats and flat of a friend who lives right in the heart of Malasaña and Chueca, two of the most popular barrios of the capital. I could write more about my feelings of the Madrid gay community, but I’m going to pass and focus on some of the positives (and boy, do I ever have to look hard to find something positive about Madrid.) En agosto pasaba unas semanas en Madrid para cuidar los gatos y el piso de un colega que vive justo en el centro de Malasaña y Chueca, dos de los barrios más populares de la capital. Podría escribir más de mis sentimientos de la comunidad gay de Madrid, pero voy a pasar y enfocarme en los positivos (y ya os digo, tengo que buscar mucho para encontrar algo positivo de Madrid.) 

The city is full of parks and museums. La ciudad tiene muchos parques y museos. 

I’m a person who needs nature, and during those two weeks, I found it in three of the city parks, Retiro, Parque de Oeste and Casa del Campo. Soy una persona que necesito mucho la naturaleza, y durante estas dos semanas, la encontré en tres de los parques de la ciudad: Retiro, Parque de Oeste y Casa del Campo. 

El Parque de Buen Retiro is the most famous park in Madrid. It was one a royal park, but it became open to the public in the 19th century. It was a former retreat (retiro) of Isabel, and several monarchs added onto it and made it more spectacular over the years. It’s proximity to Atocha and the centre of the city make it popular with locals and tourists alike. There’s a big pond, a few old buildings that house art and lots of trees and shade. El Parque de Buen Retiro es el parque más famoso de Madrid. Era una parque real, pero se abrió al público en el Siglo XIX. Era un antiguo retiro de Isabel, y durante los años la monarquía siempre añadía cosas nuevas para hacerlo aún más espectacular. Dado a su proximidad a Atocha y el centro de la ciudad, es bastante popular con ambos madrileños y turistas. Hay un estanque, unos edificios grande que tiene obras de arte y muchos árboles y sombra. 

The Parque de Oeste is a park on the western side of the cita on top of a former landfill. Spain is different. It’s most famous for the Egyptian Templo de Debod at the edge, but there are a lot of trails that are popular with runners. It was commissioned by the mayor Alberto Aguilera at the end of the 19th century and played a part in the Spanish Civil War. There is a teleférico that links it to Casa del Campo. El Parque de Oeste es un parque en el oeste de la ciudad que antes era un basurero. Spain is different. Es más famoso por el Templo de Debod de Egipto al borde del parque, pero hay muchos senderos y siempre hay gente corriendo. Era un proyecto del acalde Alberto Aguilera al finales del Siglo XIX y tenía un rol en la Guerra Civil. También hay un teleférico que une el parque con Casa del Campo. 

Casa del Campo is the largest park in Madrid and is on the grounds of a former royal hunting estate (hence the name, House of the Field). It is home to an amusement park and the Madrid Zoo. It also has a nice lake. There are tons of trails along with a couple of metro stops that go nearby (Lagos, Casa del Campo). It used to be infamous for illicit activity, but they are cracking down on it as much as possible to make it a place for everyone to find nature within the city. Casa del Campo es el parque más grande de Madrid y antes era una hacienda de cazar de la familia real (por eso, se llama “Casa del Campo”. Aquí se encuentra un parque de atraciones y el Zoo de Madrid. También hay un lago bonito. Hay bastantes senderos con dos paradas de metro a lado (Lagos y Casa del Campo). Antes tenía fama por actividad ilícita, pero ahora hay más policía porque quieren que el parque sea un sitio para que todos puedan disfrutar de la naturaleza dentro de la ciudad. 

Although I’m not a museum person, there are plenty of museums to be found. I had already been to the Prado a few times. This time I took advantage of free entry days to see the Museo de la Reina Sofía (Sundays) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza (Mondays). Aunque no soy muy de museos, hay muchos museos en Madrid. Ya había visitado el Prado unas veces. Esta vez, aproveché de días de entrada gratuita para ver el Museo de la Reina Sofía (los domingos) y el Thyssen-Bornemisza (los lunes). 

El Prado first opened in 1819 and houses the largest collection of Spanish art and is one of the most important collections of arts in all of Europe. It has Goya, El Greco, Velázquez and many other important painters. The most famous painting is Las Meninas from Velázquez. According to Wikipedia, it’s home to around 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 4,800 prints, and 1,000 sculptures from the 12th century to the early 20th century. El Prado se abrió en 1819 y tiene la colección más grande de arte español y es una de las colecciones más importante en Europa. Tiene Goya, El Greco, Velázquez y muchos pintores importantes. El cuadro más famoso es Las Meninas de Velázquez. Según Wikipedia, hay sobre 8200 dibujos, 7600 cuadros de pintura, 4800 grabados y 1000 esculturas desde el Siglo XII hasta el Siglo XX. 

The Museum of Reina Sofía opened on Sept. 10, 1992 and houses Spain’s best 20th century art, including Pablo Picasso and my favourite, Salvador Dalí. It’s free on Sunday afternoons, although there isn’t access to the full collection. I was just happy to see Picasso’s Guernica and resisted the urge to correct the spelling to Gernika. (I did live in Bilbao, 40 minutes away from Gernika, for three years.) El Museo de Reina Sofía abrió en 10 de septiembre de 1992. Aquí se encuentra la mejor del arte español durante el Siglo XX, incluso Pablo Picasso y mi preferido, Salvador Dalí. Hay entrada gratuita los domingos por la tarde, aunque no se puede acceder a la colección completa. Estaba conteno ver Guernica de Picasso y resistí el urge cambiar la ortografía de “Guernica” a “Gernika.” (Viví en Bilbao, a 40 minutos de Gernika, durante 3 años). 

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses what was once the second-largest private collection of art in the world. The collection was started by Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Káskon in the 1920s. In 1985, when he married Carmen Tita Cervera, she convinced him to relocate the collection to Spain. The museum opened in 1992. It has works from Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Munch, Dalí, Picasso and many others. It’s free on Mondays from 12-16. El Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza tiene que erase una vez la segunda colección privada de arte en el mundo. Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Káskon, empezó la colección en los años 1920. En 1985, cuando se casó con Carmen Tita Cervera, le convenció trasladar la colección a España. El museo se abrió en 1992. Tiene obras de Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Munch, Dalí, Picasso y muchos más. Hay entrada gratuita los lunes entre las 12 y las 16. 

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7 thoughts on “Madrid Museums and Parks.

  1. I’ve got so many comments to make about Madrid I don’t know where to start!

    Went there on a holiday – the first foreign holiday in a decade – with the family when our eldest started to learn Spanish in secondary school and we wanted to encourage her. We didn’t want to go to Madrid at all, we wanted to go to Andalusia but after having bought the air tickets to Madrid, Renfe refused to sell us rail tickets because we had a foreign credit card! So we got stuck in Madrid for a week. 🙂

    But we all liked it. It’s not exactly what you’d call a beautiful city but it felt very liveable. We rented a flat near Callao metro station and after London any normal size city was a relief I guess and public transport worked. 🙂 All three parks you mentioned were great, and the museums, and we made some wonderful day trips to Toledo, Segovia and the Escorial. Lovely weather at the end of October too (although I think we got lucky). It was the beginning of our family’s love affair with Spain!

    • I lived in Madrid, and I was miserable actually living there. It was a huge dream of mine to live there beforehand, but living there is not visiting there. Even two weeks there in August had me going crazy! The best thing about Madrid is the base for seeing all those beautiful cities like Toledo, Segovia, El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, etc.

      Oh Renfe…their web site rarely works even *with* a Spanish credit/debit card 🙂

      Callao is a fun zone 🙂 I’m glad you had a great experience.

  2. I was in Madrid for two days in August. (I wonder if we overlapped?) I loved the Retiro park and spent a whole morning there, mostly watching and listening to the wild parrots. I also saw the Picasso exhibit at Reina Sofia. What’s the story behind the different spellings on Guernica/Gernika?

    • We may have overlapped…but I tend to run from English speakers in the streets of Spain 😛 😛 I hope you had a much better visit to Madrid than I did 🙂 If I had known, we could’ve had a drink and talked Camino and writing!

      Guernica is the Spanish spelling. Gernika is the Basque spelling and the official spelling of the town. As Franco prohibited Basque (and Catalan and Galician) from being spoken during 40 years, it’s obviously named Guernica…living in Bilbao for three years, it’s hard for my brain to see it as Guernica because I’m so used to Gernika 🙂

  3. I spent an afternoon in the Museo del Prado and I loved it! I was not able to visit the others two museums neither the parks. I was in Madrid for four days in November 2010 and I did enjoy the city and the nightlife. I have in my bucket list Barcelona, Sevilla and Bilbao. How do you like those three cities?

    • Viví en Bilbao durante 3 años…el País Vasco (Euskadi) es una maravilla. Bilbao por el ambiente, pero San Sebastián (Donostia) es la ciudad más bella que he visto. Barcelona es mi ciudad…me encanta también. Sevilla…no he tenido buenas experiencias, es como Nueva York es para ti. A mucha gente le encanta, pero prefiero Granada de Andalucía. Espero que no te importa que te conteste en español jeje 🙂

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