Early the next morning we visited the Museo Sorolla. This was the house where the famous Valencian impressionist, Joaquín Sorolla, lived. Much of the house, including his studio, has been preserved and the building houses a great collection of his paintings. Around the house are the most beautiful, shady gardens. To the front are elegant standard roses, some of which are a lovely, dusky pink that are actually featured in his paintings, and around the side is a pond and fountain.
We then moved on to the Prado. You need at least 4 hours to get around and view this magnificent collection of old masters which include famous Spanish works by Velázquez, El Greco and Goya as well as masterpieces by Raphael, Rubens, Bosch and many others. On loan from the the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, was a striking work, Virgin and Child with Angels, by Jean Fouquet, painted in 1452.
Next to the Prado are the Royal Botanical Gardens. A lovely place to relax after seeing all that art. The gardens display a big collection of named roses, irises and peonies.
The last art museum we visited was the Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, which is devoted to modern art. The permanent collection has many famous paintings by Picasso, Dali and Miro. Pride of place is given to Guernica but our favorite Picasso was ‘Mujer en Azul’ painted in 1901.
On our final morning we strolled around the Retiro Gardens, a 130 hectare park in the city centre. A large boating lake is overlooked by a statue of Alfonso X11 and the Palacio de Cristal is a lovely glass building in the centre. However, we found the most beautiful aspect of the gardens were its magnificent trees under which you can relax on benches and listen to the bird song.
We flew from Almeria to Madrid with Air Europa. You can get return tickets for under 50 euros. At the airport we bought a three day unlimited metro pass which not only provided us with cheap transfers from the airport to the city centre but proved a quick and efficient way of getting about the city. We stayed in an inexpensive hostal. The room was clean, had an en suite bathroom and WiFi, but it was pretty basic and noisy. Next time we would like to try the Ritz.
We have posted a few more photos on http://coloursofspain.wordpress.com.