The Prado Museum is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It is widely considered to have one of the world's finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and the single best collection of Spanish art. Founded 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 it is considered one of the greatest art museums in the world. The numerous works by Francisco Goya, the single most extensively represented artist, as well as by Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez, are some of the highlights of the collection.
The collection currently comprises around 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 4,800 prints, and 1,000 sculptures. As of 2012, the museum displayed about 1,300 works in the main buildings, while around 3,100 works were on temporary loan to various museums and official institutions.
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 Italy.
The museum is planning a 16% extension in the nearby Salón de Reinos, to be opened in 2019.
The Royal Palace (Palacio Real in Spanish) is not the official residence of his Majesty the King of Spain, but rather where state ceremonies, official banquets and other state functions take place. The King lives in Zarzuela Palace, which is just outside of Madrid.
It is sometimes incorrectly referred to in Spanish as "Palacio de Oriente" due to its close proximity to the "Plaza de Oriente" square, which is on the east (Oriental) side of the palace.
The origin of the palace dates back to the ninth century when the Muslim kingdom of Toledo built a defense that was later used by the kings of Castile, who, during the 16th century, built the former Alcázar castle.
The current Royal Palace was built on the site of the old Alcázar which was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1734. King Felipe V decided to build a palace for his Borbon dynasty. The Italian Filippo Juvara was selected to design the new palace and his plans were to create a grand palace along the lines of France's Versailles. All construction was vaulted in stone and brick, not wood so that any fire could destroy it.