Art and Museums in Madrid When Phillip II named Madrid as the capital city of his kingdom, it was just one more city among many. Churches, convents and palaces were soon added, and slowly a more definitive urbanism resulted in creations that appear from the Plaza Mayor to the great Bourbon walkways. But the most singular attractiveness of Madrid is having been the center of Spanish culture since the Golden Age, which has resulted in the city boasting the best museums in all of Spain and among the best in Europe. But Madrid is also one of the most dynamic metropolises of the continent. One of the reasons the royalty decided to settle down here was its location, situated on a vast plain with no orographical borders.

Day 1 - MADRID
Arrival in Madrid and overnight

Day 2 - MADRID
A first glimpse of Madrid provided by a scenic tour will allow us to appreciate the dimension and beauty of this city of three million inhabitants and its urban development over the last 150 years. We will see the vital points of the city, the Paseo de la Castellana, the Manzanares River, Alcala Street and Gran Via; the Salamanca district, urban expressions from the Arturo Soria garden-city to the more recent Plaza de Castilla district, the Colon, Espana and Atocha squares, and extensive green areas. The Reina Sofia Museum will be the first of three great Madrid museums that we will visit. Ensconced within a former Neoclassical hospital facility from the 18th century, its wide spaces are dedicated to the exhibits and rather complete display of contemporary Spanish artists, from works of Zuloaga, Regoyos and many others, to the culmination of works by Dali, and Picasso's Guernica. Overnight in Madrid

Day 3 - MADRID
Today we will complete our visit along the famed Mile of Art in Madrid. The Prado Museum, recently expanded, houses the former royal collections in an early 18th century building. The focus is on the great masters of Spanish art: El Greco, Velazquez and Goya, and displays the fine taste that the royal family had for Italian -primarily Tiziano and Tintoretto- and Flemish art from El Bosco to Rubens. The collection at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum somehow complements that of the Prado: masters of Italian art from Trecento and Cuatrocento, and avant-garde paintings from the 19th century. The three great art museums of Madrid are situated in an area known as the Madrid of the Bourbons which also includes the Botanical Gardens, the Paseo del Prado avenue and its fountains, and the Retiro Park. Overnight in Madrid Possibility to organize a tapas lunch

Toledo, predecessor to Madrid as the capital of Spain, is the Spanish city that best represents the religious ideals of the Middle Ages. From the Visigoth period which emanated the idea of a united, independent and Catholic Iberian Peninsula, to the medieval cohabitation of three religions -the Cristo de la Luz Mosque, the Transito and Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogues, and the Cathedral- we arrive at the controversial Spanish Renaissance: the Santa Cruz Hospital and El Greco. Despite the overlapping of cultures, wandering the narrow streets of Toledo continues to evoke this Mediterranean and Semitic origin of so many Spanish cities. Return to Madrid and overnight Possibility to organize a visit to a local producer with manchego cheese and wine taste

Day 5 - MADRID
Today we will get to know the Madrid of the Habsburgs, that is, the city that became the capital in 1561. Originally an Arab fortress that later became the Alcazar of Carlos V, today it is the Royal Palace, a Bourbon design from the 18th century. Next to it is the Cathedral, a temple begun towards the end of the 19th century when Madrid finally had a bishop. From there our steps will take us down Calle Mayor, the Plaza de la Villa square and the San Miguel market to the Plaza Mayor, a reference for many other Castilian squares from the 17th and subsequent centuries. Calle Toledo takes us to the San Isidro church and from there to the Plaza Santa Ana and the Puerta del Sol square. There are many hidden places that will evoke the Spanish history over the last five hundred years. Finally, we will visit two royal convents of Madrid: the Encarnacion and the Descalzas monasteries, expressions of the religious sentiment of the Habsburg Counterreformation. Overnight in Madrid Possibility to organize a special farewell dinner or attend a flamenco show

Day 6 - MADRID
Transfer to the Madrid Airport

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