View Masterpieces of Art in Madrid — Free of Charge

I f you enjoy viewing works of art from as early as the fourteenth century and you happen to be in Madrid, you are in luck: save yourself 14 Euros and visit the permanent collection at the Museo Nacional del Prado free of charge.

You read that correctly: view actual paintings by such Spanish artists as Francisco Goya and Diego Velázquez — as well as actual masterpieces from other artists such as Peter Paul Rubens; Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn; Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio; and El Greco — Spanish for The Greek, whose real name was Doménikos Theotokópoulos — who was an important and influential master during the Spanish Renaissance.

Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes is a masterpiece painted by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Yup — that Rembrandt. Image courtesy of the the Museo Nacional del Prado.

Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes is a masterpiece painted with oils by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn in 1634. Yup — that Rembrandt. Image courtesy of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Click on the image for additional details about this masterpiece.

Here is how to enter the museum for free: simply show up at the museum from Monday to Saturday between 6:00 and 8:00 in the evening; and on Sundays and holidays between 5:00 and 7:00 in the evening. You can also show up on November 19, 2014 and on International Museum Day during the full opening hours of the museum.

A statue of . Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

A statue dedicated to Diego Velázquez stands outside of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

According to the official Internet web site of the Museo Nacional del Prado, you qualify for free admission to the museum at any time if you are:

  • Under 18 years of age
  • A student between 18 and 25 years of age
  • A visitor with physical impairments, as defined by article 1.2 of Law 51/2003 of 2 December, on equal opportunity, non-discrimination and universal access for the physically impaired; and admission to the museum is also free for the companion assisting the physically impaired visitor, as long as this assistance is essential for the visit
  • A citizen who is officially unemployed
  • A member of at least one of the following associations:
    • Fundación de Amigos del Museo del Prado, or Foundation of Friends of the Prado Museum
    • APME, or Professional Association of Spanish Museologists
    • ANABAD, or National Association of Archivists, Librarians and Museologists
    • AEM, or Spanish Association of Museologists
    • ICOM, or International Council of Museums
    • Royal History Academy
    • Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando
    • Spanish Royal Academy
  • Personnel from the State Museums section of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
  • A teacher exercising your profession inside the museum
  • Part of a family group comprised of at least one adult and three children — or two, if one is physically impaired — included in the same large-family card
  • An official tourist guide
  • A journalist


A statue dedicated to Francisco Goya stands outside of the . Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

A statue dedicated to Francisco Goya stands outside of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Although one of the requirements of earning my Bachelor of Arts degree at one of the top art schools in the world was studying art history — I still have my textbooks — two hours was more than enough for me, as I can only take so much of being in a museum in one visit. This included the Louvre when I was in Paris. As an artist, I appreciate works of art; but I like my museum visits to not take too long. Thanks to the Internet, I can spend my time simply viewing the works of art which I like in person at a museum — studying the brush strokes, noticing the imperfections of the canvas, marvel at how the artist used light in his or her work, imagine what life was like back in the time the work of art was created, and interpret the work my own way — and then learn more about them on my free time at home if I so choose.

If you truly enjoy being in a museum, you can easily spend the day in the Museo Nacional del Prado — but then, you must pay the admission fee of 14 Euros if you do not meet any of the above qualifications and if you are entering the museum alone; and the admission fee might well be worth it to you.

When I visited the museum just before 6:00 in the evening, the line was incredibly long; but do not be discouraged: once it started moving, I was in the building viewing works of art within ten minutes…

…and despite all of the people, it really was not that crowded due to the size of the museum — and I cannot stand crowds. In fact, it was rather quiet in the museum.

This is the entrance to the Museo Nacional del Prado. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This is the entrance to the Museo Nacional del Prado. Do not let the queuing barriers deter you. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

If you want a quick fix of viewing masterpieces from inches away before dining in Madrid, the Museo Nacional del Prado is the perfect place to spend your time getting lost in the works of art; but two hours should be plenty of time to see the works of art which interests you the most.

2 thoughts on “View Masterpieces of Art in Madrid — Free of Charge”

  1. Joey says:

    I went to an art school as well for undergrad and took a few art history courses (let’s just say I always paid a nickel whenever I had to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art!) As I have grown older, however, I prefer to go to an art museum after drinking a glass of champagne, wine, or beer. When my friends and I went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, for example, we had a few beers beforehand and our interpretations were definitely more creative and overall just had fun. Mind you this is what I do nowadays whenever I go to a standard art museum. My favorite type of art museum is the one where you visit someone’s home to see his/her private collection (i.e. the Frick Collection in NYC is my absolute favorite.)

  2. Gene says:

    Thanks for the reminder. We are returning to Madrid this winter, and will definitely have to go back to The Prado. I generally dont like museums , but The Prado is truly stunning.

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