The Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national
art museum, located in central Madrid. It features one of the world's finest
collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 19th
century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the
best single collection of Spanish art. Founded as a museum of paintings and
sculpture in 1819, it also contains important collections of other types of
works. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in the world, and is
considered one the greatest museums of art in the world. The numerous works by
Francisco de Goya, the single most extensively represented artist, as well as
by Diego Velázquez, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch
are some of the highlights of the collection.
The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures,
4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of other works of
art and historic documents. By 2012 the Museum will be displaying about 1,300 works
in the main buildings, while around 3,100 works are on temporary loan to various
museums and official institutions. The remainder are in storage. The museum
received 2.8 million visitors in 2012.
The best-known work on display at the museum is Las Meninas by Velázquez.
Velázquez and his keen eye and sensibility were also responsible for bringing much
of the museum's fine collection of Italian masters to Spain, now the largest
outside of Italy.