If you love art -- painting, sculpture, architecture -- the summer in Spain can be a journey to the Garden of Earthly Delights (not coincidentally, the title of Hieronymus Bosch's great work, housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid). Spain has produced its own long list of greats: Picasso, El Greco, Velázquez, Miro, Goya, Dalí and more. Hand in hand with that, Spain has taken delight in the works of the world's other greats. Scattered across the country are works by Fra Angelico, Rubens, Rafael, and so many more. With multiple weekends, an art lover can encounter an almost endless variety of masterpieces.
Madrid, of course, is a must-see for art lovers. There are 44 museums in the city, but you can fill out your weekend with a package of three on the Prado: the Museo del Prado (home to Bosch's work, Velázquez's Las Meninas, Albrecht Dürer's Adam and Eve, and Zurbarán's Agnus Dei); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (where you will see Picasso's Guernica); and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (which holds works by Jan Van Eyck, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt Monet, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh). Click for more information on a Madrid outing.
If you are a Picasso lover, you might want to make the jurney to Málaga, where his birthplace has been converted into the Museo Picasso Málaga. These are not his most famous works, but among the lesser known paintings and sculptures are several great pieces, like his sculpture Seated Faun or the paintings Villa Chêne-Roc and Woman with Raised Arms. Click for more information on a Málaga outing.
Barcelona has its own Picasso Museum, which presents Picasso's own revisioning of Las Meninas among its 3800 works. But there are 54 other museums in Barcelona, including Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya with a collection spanning Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and modern periods. Of course, art is more than paintings. Barcelona's architecture and public art are extraordinary. You might consider taking a side trip to Figueres, to the Dalí Theater and Museum that Salvador Dalí himself established in 1960 his home town. (The trip takes about 90 minutes by train.) Click for more information on a Barcelona outing.
Some consider Sevilla's Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla second only to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Here is where you find El Greco's Portrait of Jorge Manuel, Zurbarán's Apotheosis of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Murillo's The Immaculate Conception (La Colosal). Click for more information on a Sevilla outing. Of course, Sevilla has many other museums as well, including a Museum of Flamenco, the Bullfight Museum, and the Cartuja Museum (which features horse-drawn carriages). Click for more information on a Sevilla outing.
But Spain's art is not limited to the modern museum. The alcázar (royal palace) of Sevilla and the Monastery of the Cartuja in Granada feature great pieces. The cathedrals of Granada, Sevilla, Madrid and other cities house vast collections of sculpture and painting. Sculptures hold center place in dozens of plazas in nearly every city. The archaeological museums hold breathtaking mosaics and sculptures of the ancient world. The fine arts pop out at you in some very surprising places. Enjoy.