EuroTrip 2013 | Spain Day 4: Museo Naval, Palacio de Cibeles, Museo del Prado

Inside the Naval Museum

Inside the Naval Museum

We’re continuing our exploration of Madrid today with some pretty diverse activities – from a visit to the Spanish Naval Museum, a stop by the city center, and finally another art fix at Prado Museum.

Funny thing about traveling through Europe – we’re finding that a lot of things seem to start repeating the more places we visit, i.e. there are tons and tons of cathedrals, art museums, and museums in general in pretty much every city we’ve been to.

Our goal today was to try to break out of that mold and look for some other fun activities, and things worked out well because we ended up having a pretty awesome day!

We started off at Museo Naval de Madrid, the Spanish Naval Museum. For only 3 euros, this place was well worth the visit, and we got a definitive history of ships and the navy of Spain from the 15th century to modern times. As the country behind the famed (and ill-fated) Spanish Armada, Spain would be an ideal country to see cool exhibits on ships.

And the exhibits were pretty cool – they included model replicas of the original ships, oil paintings of impressive naval battles throughout history, weapons and tools used on the ships, and even an original map of the world produced with new findings from 1492-1500 for the monarchs of Spain.

Our second stop of the day was the city center Palacio de Cibeles, which was recently renovated and renamed CentroCentro by the city. If you’ve been to LACMA in LA, this sort of reminded me of it, except there were fewer exhibits (some were still being set up) of more contemporary and urban subjects.

Other than enjoying the view from the tower (towers seem to be another repeating attraction in every city we’ve been to) and the ice-cold AC (a good break from the 100ish degrees outside), we also saw some cool photography exhibits of local parks, fashion exhibits, and an exhibit about how to make the city a better place to live (seems like crowdsourced apps is their answer…).

After a quick dinner at the nicest McDonald’s I’ve seen (McDonald’s…another repeating mainstay of Europe – I’ll probably write about this in a future post), we visited Museo del Prado, one of the most famous art museums in the world with some of the finest collections of European art. They were running a special where admission was free from 6-8 PM, and in that time we enjoyed some really amazing pieces of art.

My personal favorites were the Black Paintings by Spanish painter Francisco Goya, which were painted during the later years of his life and portray intense, dark themes. I’d talked about Saturn Devouring His Son during one of my class discussions last semester, so it was incredible seeing it in person. Considering that Goya had witnessed wars, government turmoil, and near-fatal illnesses by the time he painted these, these paintings make much more sense.

Enjoying paintings by El Greco at Prado Museum

Enjoying paintings by El Greco at Prado Museum

The other memorable exhibit was El Greco’s group of Biblical paintings created for the church Santo Domingo el Antigue. El Greco was a Greek-born artist of the Spanish Renaissance (hence the nickname) who declared that color had primacy over form. It showed – brilliant colors accented throughout his paintings really made his style stand out and gave traditional subjects a breath of fresh air.

A quick side note: our Spanish teacher in high school had a section on Latin American art where we had to research and produce our own replicas of famous art. Really glad she had us do it because it made me appreciate art a whole lot more and made my visits to these art museums much more enjoyable. So if you’re reading, Señora Maldonado, muchas gracias!

Overall a fun (and very hot) day! Tomorrow’s day trip will include a visit to a castle and a Roman aqueduct.

Stay tuned and read about my other adventures in London, Paris, Berlin, Italy, and Spain!

Steps taken: 17,656 | Miles walked: 5.85

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