Museo del Prado
Lonely Planet review for Museo del Prado
Converted in 1819 from a natural history museum to a repository of Spanish art held in royal collections, the Museo del Prado hosts over 7000 works. The strongest collections are the 17th- and 18th-century Spanish paintings on the 1st floor, featuring the likes of Velázquez, Goya and da Ribera.
The building in which it is housed is itself a masterpiece. Completed in 1785, the neo-Classical Palacio de Villanueva served as a cavalry barracks for Napoleon's troops during their occupation of Madrid between 1808 and 1813. In 1814, King Fernando VII decided to use the palace as a museum for the royal collections and five years later the Museo del Prado opened with 311 Spanish paintings on display.