Although the title of this article is stolen from the travels through Spanish art history of a 40 something year old, my article provides a student’s perspective on, specifically, the art on display in Madrid.
Cathedral Almudena is, in itself, an artistic masterpiece. The statues of angels outside, fronting a detailed, pale blue cathedral combine to present a beautiful exterior which complements the exquisite interior. Clothes from religious occasions can be found in the museum section of this cathedral, along with jewellery and sports trophies (an interesting combination, to be sure). The bright coloured ceilings in the main part of the cathedral are uncharacteristic for cathedrals, but provide a vivid element for admiration when gazing upwards.
The Basilica of San Francisco el Grande boasts the most spectacular ceilings that I have ever seen. They are mesmerising and contain amazingly detailed paintings of disciples, Jesus and Mary which line the ceilings, and statues surround the interior of the cathedral. The sun shines down through a stained-glass dome, and highlights the glitter and gilt which line the panels.
The Royal Palace’s architecture is beyond impressive, and inside is the largest collection of tapestries on display in any European palace I’ve seen, and also on display is the first edition of Don Quixote; a real treat for art lovers anywhere! As if that wasn’t enough, five instruments from the Stradivarius collection are on display in the music room. An artistic, literary and musical delight of a palace!
The Palacio de Cibeles (once the people’s palace, now a place of art and science exhibitions) has many floors boasting a great variety of exhibitions for artists and scientists alike. From writing interactive speech bubbles for real people on the street (footage via CCTV), to an exhibition of art by refugees, this palace places a whole new meaning on the phrase “for the people”.
The Monasteria de las Descalzas Reales is not only a working nunnery, but a gallery of religious art. With tours in English and Spanish, tourists and citizens alike can learn the history of the artwork as they walk the steps that nuns from the 1500s to the modern day will have taken. Featuring works by Titian, Rubens & Bruegel, holy relics, tapestries and statues, this monastery is worth a visit for those with or without religious tendencies.
So on your European travels, I hope I have convinced you to give Madrid and its arty areas a visit. Whether looking up to artistic ceilings, gazing into glass cases of expensive string instruments, or admiring tapestries over twice as wide and tall as the person admiring them, Madrid truly has it all.
Images courtesy of Isla McLachlan