Huddled beneath the modern apartment buildings northwest of Plaza de España, this noble old mansion is a reminder of how wealthy madrileños (people from Madrid) once lived. The former home of the 17th Marqués de Cerralbo (1845–1922) – politician, poet and archaeologist – is a study in 19th-century opulence. The upper floor boasts a gala dining hall and a grand ballroom. The mansion is jammed with the fruits of the collector’s eclectic meanderings – from Oriental pieces to religious paintings and clocks.
On the main floor are suits of armour from around the world, while the Oriental room is full of carpets, Moroccan kilims, tapestries, musical instruments and 18th-century Japanese suits of armour, much of it obtained at auction in Paris in the 1870s. The music room is dominated by a gondola of Murano glass and pieces of Bohemian crystal. The house is also replete with porcelain, including Sèvres, Wedgwood, Meissen and local ceramics.
Clearly the marqués was a man of diverse tastes and it can all be a little overwhelming, especially once you factor in artworks by Zurbarán, Ribera, van Dyck and El Greco.
Admission is free 2pm to 3pm Saturday, 5pm to 8pm Thursday and all day Sunday.