Discovering Goya in Madrid

Year 1775, Madrid.

A young Goya (28) arrives in Madrid.

Goya at the Prado Museum

He has got a job as a pattern designer for tapestries, at the Real Fábrica de Tapices (Royal Tapestry Workshop)

Royal Tapestry Workshop

Year 2015, Madrid.

Goya reigns at the Prado Museum.

Goya at Prado Museum

The monument to Goya (pic below) is facing the North façade of said outstanding museum (pic above, the so-called Goya’s Door). These days there is an exhibit at the Prado about Goya’s works for the Royal Tapestry Workshop.

Goya's door

But Goya not only designed tapestry models in Madrid. He was a prolific genius and, consequently, the city treasures lots of his easel paintings, drawings, frescoes, drafts …

This post is just a little, poor, disorganized, immethodical, unsystematic and totally unpractical guide to discovering Goya in Madrid.

Follow me through the streets of Madrid if you can, and read at your own risk. Let’s go.

Prado Avenue Madrid

Our walk starts at the Royal Tapestry Workshop.

As I said before, Goya worked for them, and painted 63 “cartones” (tapestry patterns). The Workshop is home to a wonderful collection of tapestries, carpets and paintings of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Artists are still working here today. (www.realfabricadetapices.com)

Royal Tapestry Workshop

Let’s go on.

Not far away from the Royal Tapestry Workshop starts the so-called “Walk of the Arts”. It is a not-to-be-missed itinerary for art lovers. It calls at three awesome museums: The Reina Sofía National Art Centre (www.museoreinasofia.es), the Prado Museum (www.museodelprado.es) and the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum (www.museothyssen.org)

This is (pic below) the Reina Sofía National Art Centre:

Reina Sofía National Art Centre

You will not find Goya paintings here. Modern Art only. This museum houses a very significant permanent collection, including works by Spanish artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Antonio López, Manolo Hugué, etc. Also, foreigner ones, like Rothko, Ernst, Magritte, etc.

Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” lives in this museum.

Talking about Dalí … Did you read my groundbreaking and universally unacknowledged series about Salvador Dalí? For instance, if you want to find the authentic inspiration sources of Mr. Salvador Dalí, read my post “Salvador Dalí (Part 2): Inspiration”. I know those sources really well (and my little bunch of loyal readers too)

Let’s go on.

In our way towards the jewel of the crown (the Prado Museum), you´ll stumble upon the very interesting “Caixa Forum” (address: Paseo del Prado, 36). This is Caixa Forum:

Caixa Forum Madrid

There are always interesting art exhibitions within the walls of that strange building …

Let’s go on.

Here it is.

The jewel of the crown.

One of the very best (if not the best) Art museums of the world …

The Prado Museum.

The Prado Museum Madrid

This marvelous museum is great not only because it harbors myriads of masterpieces of European Art… This marvel is great because it strictly FORBIDS taking pictures or videos within its walls! Can you believe it? I love the Prado Museum! This prohibition is bad for me as a blogger (I cannot illustrate this post with paintings), but it is a blessing for me as an art-lover. People should live the “art experience” and capture it within their hearts and minds, rather than bother everyone by clicking and flashing and taking selfies in front of each and every painting.

You won’t find a bigger or better collection of paintings by Goya anywhere else in the world (140 paintings and lots of drawings).

By the way, the main entrance to the Prado Museum is called the “Velázquez’s Door”, after the divine Diego Velázquez. His “Las Meninas”, that absolute masterpiece of universal art, is in the Prado Museum, as well as quite a few other masterpieces painted by this genius .

A lot of years ago, in an interview, a journalist asked Mr Salvador Dalí this question: – “If a fire broke out in the Museo del Prado, what would you save?”

Dalí answered: – “The air”.

The surprised journalist asked again: -“The air?”

– “I would save the air inside Velázquez’s painting Las Meninas” – added Dalí.

Velázquez at the Prado

The Southern door of the Prado Museum is called the “Murillo’s Door”, after Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Murillo at the Prado

Just in front of the Murillo’s Door you’ll find the Royal Botanic Garden.

Royal Botanic Garden Madrid

It is a cute place to refresh your heart and mind after visiting the Prado Museum …

Real Jardín Botánico

The Royal Botanic Garden is a relatively little garden. If your deep emotions (those felt while visiting the Prado Museum) are not dissolved and your existential questions are not resolved while visiting the Royal Botanic Garden, you can prolong your walk and musings at the neighboring El Retiro Park.

El Retiro lake

El Retiro is a huge park (although not as big as the Central Park of New York or the Hyde Park of London) located at the heart of the city of Madrid, very close to the Prado Museum. It belonged to the Kings of Spain from the early 17th century until the late 19th century, when it became a public park.

El Retiro Park

Some premises of the Prado Museum are facing El Retiro Park (here below, El Casón del Buen Retiro)

Casón del Buen Retiro

And very close to it you’ll see the Royal Spanish Academy (www.rae.es). It is the official institution responsible for overseeing the Spanish language.

Spanish Royal Academy

Let’s go on. We are back at the Paseo del Prado (Prado Avenue)

Paseo del Prado 1

A few meters (or yards or whatever) away from the Prado Museum, you’ll see the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum.

Museo Thyssen Madrid

With a myriad of paintings, this museum offers you a walk down the history of European -and American- painting from its early beginnings in the 13th century to the last years of the 20th century. This museum displays four paintings by Goya.

Thyssen Bornemisza Museum

Taking pictures in the Thyssen Bornemisza is forbidden 🙂

Thyssen 3

Let’s go on.

Where do we go on?

Oh, yes, let’s go to the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts. We just need to turn left and take Alcalá Street …

Alcalá Street, Madrid

Here it is …

San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts

The San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts is a very important institution in Spain. Its museum (little known by tourists) has a collection of 1400 paintings, 600 sculptures, 15.000 drawings and a vast array of pieces of decorative arts.

I like the San Fernando Royal Academy very much. (www.realacademiabellasartessanfernando.com)

Royal Academy Museum

In said wonderful museum you can see 13 paintings by Goya.

Let’s go on.

I am afraid that this post is getting too long. I’ll take the “Metro” (subway), which is outstanding in Madrid. We are going to the “Salamanca District”. What station? “Goya”, of course:

Metro Goya

Goya liked “corridas de toros” (bullfighting) very much. He painted a series of drawings called “Tauromaquia”. This plaque (pic below), located at the glamorous Salamanca District, commemorates his visits to an old Plaza de Toros located here in Goya’s time (it doesn’t exist today)

Tauromaquia

The Salamanca District would deserve a specific post, and El Retiro Park another one … but I prefer blogging about sunny beaches and ancient monasteries perched on high mountains (from a Mediterranean cove to the top of a mountain = cove to top), so let’s hurry up.

Lázaro Galdiano Museum

Pic above: The Lázaro Galdiano Museum (www.flg.es), in Serrano Street. It displays an excellent collection of European art (paintings, sculptures and decorative art, spanning from the 4th century BC to the first half of the 20th century). Some pretty interesting Goyas are here. Special mention to two eccentric paintings by Goya: “Aquellarre” (a dark and terrifying ceremony) and “Las Brujas” (the witches)

Let’s go on.

I think I’m going to take the “Metro” (subway) again … Goya Street, Velázquez Station this time …

Metro Velázquez

The Royal Palace of Madrid:

Royal Palace of Madrid

Goya worked here for the kings of Spain, and painted their silly faces (those of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII) quite a few times. Goya painted the portrait of King Charles III too, but he didn’t have a silly face because he was a very wise man and a very good king. This palace is another not-to-be-missed place of Madrid.

I am exhausted and hungry.

This post is getting too long.

You’ll find more works by Goya at the Saint Francis Basilica, not far away from the Royal Palace, and at the Romantic Museum …

Romantic Museum Madrid

Not far away from the city of Madrid, in the very same Province of Madrid, in the little and wonderful town of Chinchón there is another painting by Goya at its Parish Church. And in the suburbs of Madrid, in a town (not as nice as Chinchón) called Valdemoro, there is another one. If you ever visit Valdemoro (not a touristic place at all), do as I did and visit the convent of Las Clarisas de Valdemoro, where the nuns cook (and sell) delicious pastries, following ancient recipes. I got these outstanding “Florecillas” (pic below). Ora et labora at its best:

Florecillas

This post is almost done.

Let’s go to our last destination …

San Antonio de la Florida

San Antonio de la Florida is a wonderful little hermitage located in downtown Madrid …

San Antonio de la Florida Hermitage

A statue of Goya is facing the little hermitage …

Goya at San Antonio

It is a very special place …

Monument to Goya at San Antonio

When you visit this sacred place (free entrance, no pics allowed 🙂 ), you are instantly overwhelmed by the beauty of its colorful, imaginative, intelligent and superbly crafted frescoes. They cover the vaults of the nave, dome and apse.

Goya painted all those frescoes.

Goya is buried beneath them.

I left San Antonio de la Florida deeply thrilled and very moved.

From then on, Goya’s magic has exerted a strong influence on my weak soul.

After visiting San Antonio, I crossed the street in order to have lunch at the neighboring “Casa Mingo”, which is a very old restaurant that apparently hasn’t changed much over the last 120 years …

Mingo Restaurant Madrid

They serve simple and traditional food, of good quality, at very low prices.

Casa Mingo 2

Consequently, Casa Mingo is always crowded …

 

Thanks God, I got a seat. It was a narrow seat just in front of a smiley and friendly couple of old people.

I ordered some Cabrales cheese, a tortilla de patatas and medio pollo, and a bottle of sidra. I devoured it all and, when I averted my gaze from the dish, I definitively realized that Goya’s influence was very strong on me.

The old couple and the entire world had changed for me …

Goya's Black Paintings

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About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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12 Responses to Discovering Goya in Madrid

  1. Thank you so much for this post! My husband was a student in Madrid in his young days and spent his days in the museums and churches…(not that much studying got done, i think)….and his nights out with his friends wandering from bar to bar. This post brings it all back to mind – and up to date – so if he is well enough to travel to Spain this year we shall fly into Madrid rather than Barcelona and take a week following your trail!

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you very much for your comment, Helen. My trail in this post was a little “exhausting”. Madrid is a wonderful city, full of surprises, and Barcelona too. Both are connected by a high speed train (less than 3 hours). Perhaps you can consider splitting your week between both cities; it would be a very nice contrast. On the other hand, if you stay only in Madrid, there are some interesting one-day-trips to surrounding marvels like Toledo or Segovia. And if you love Art, you can definitively spend a whole life-time at the Prado Museum of Madrid 😉

  2. Wish says:

    Estoy aprendiendo español. Aquí va: es un blogpost largo pero interesante y simpático. I read every word. Madrid looks like a very big and busy city. Like you, I prefer monasteries and beaches, but I also like old artworks. Fortunately, I can see some unusual examples in the smaller towns, so I take notice when you mention small untouristy places like Valdemoro. Muchas gracias.

    • Covetotop says:

      Muchas gracias por tu amable comentario, Trish. Estoy seguro de que pronto hablarás español perfectamente. In this post I include a link to the Spanish Royal Academy (www.rae.es) In said webpage you’ll find very good resources (free) in order to speak a correct Spanish. Particularly, the “Diccionario de la lengua española” and the “Diccionario panhispánico de dudas” are a must for Spanish writers. I like art very much, but I consider the sea as the most perfect masterpiece of the whole universe (apart from Beethoven’s music 🙂 )

    • Covetotop says:

      (Btw, Chinchón is a really nice village, but Valdemoro is just a “bedroom town”. I’d suggest you to visit Chinchón rather than Valdemoro)

      • I wish I had known about this before I was last in Madrid over the summer. I so love those small, out of the way towns and villages. Anyways, Goya is and will forever be the only 18th century painter whom I respect and admire. Thanks as usual for an awesome and humorous post 🙂

      • Covetotop says:

        Thanks for your comment, Nathan. Goya is certainly the most surprising artist of the 18th century (and of the 19th, 20th, 21th …) 🙂

  3. aferreira says:

    What a delightful way of starting the week, Covetotop, thank you! 🙂
    You make it look like there are infinite wonders to discover and admire, and also that it’s easy to write wonderful posts!

    Goya was a real master artist and you know, it suddenly occurred to me that he could very well have been the author of that saying – Yo no credo en brujas, pero haberlas, haylas (I hope that’s correct, I googled it…)

    Anyway, don’t let your bright vision be distorted by Goya’s influence! 😉
    Most of us wouldn’t find half the beautiful and interesting things you share (the artist’s inspiration sources and the links included), it’s a real pleasure to walk along your images and words!

    • Covetotop says:

      Yo, como Goya, tampoco creo en brujas, pero haberlas haylas … 🙂 Lo que sí hay son encantadoras artistas como tú, que siempre dejan agradabilísimos comentarios en mi blog. Muito obrigado, Ana!!

  4. harri8here says:

    BigHola C2T, in the two weeks since I first read this post, Madrid’s treasures have been furnishing the rooms of my mind. (Papering the walls too.) So … in addition to your countless other talents, you are also an exceptional Interior Decorator. You’ve made my mind a palace! ;-). Muchas gracias. Great images, both from your words and photographs. As always.
    HR8

    • Covetotop says:

      BigHola, HR8! Thank you for your very kind and philosophical comment, but my countless talents -including that thing of “Interior Decorator”- usually produce very disappointing results. You’d rather keep the original condition of your wonderful mind.

      (Did I ever say that I like your comments very much?) 😉

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