Madrid is the capital of Spain and the largest municipality in both the Community of Madrid and Spain as a whole. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (EU), smaller than only London and Berlin, and its monocentric metropolitan area is the third-largest in the EU, smaller only than those of London and Paris. The municipality covers 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).
Madrid lies on the River Manzanares in the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political, economic and cultural centre of the country.
The Madrid urban agglomeration has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. Madrid is home to two world-famous football clubs, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Due to its economic output, high standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the leading economic hub of the Iberian Peninsula and of Southern Europe.
Madrid houses the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), belonging to the United Nations Organization (UN), the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), and the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB). It also hosts major international regulators and promoters of the Spanish language: the Standing Committee of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the Cervantes Institute and the Foundation of Urgent Spanish (Fundéu BBVA). Madrid organises fairs such as FITUR, ARCO, SIMO TCI and the Madrid Fashion Week.
Madrid is considered one of the top European destinations concerning art museums. Best known is the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three museums. The most famous one is the Prado Museum, known for such highlights as Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas and Francisco de Goya’s La maja vestida and La maja desnuda. The other two museums are the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, established from a mixed private collection, and the Reina Sofía Museum, where Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is exhibited, returned to Spain from New York after more than two decades.
The Prado Museum (Museo del Prado) is a museum and art gallery that features one of the world’s finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of works of art and historic documents. El Prado is one of the most visited museums in the world, and it is considered to be among the greatest museums of art. It has the best collection of artworks by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Titian, Hieronymus Bosch, José de Ribera, and Patinir as well as works by Rogier van der Weyden, Raphael Sanzio, Tintoretto, Veronese, Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Albrecht Dürer, Claude Lorrain, Murillo, and Zurbarán, among others. Among the most famous paintings in this museum are Las Meninas, The Garden of Earthly Delights, The Immaculate Conception, and The Judgement of Paris.
The Reina Sofía National Art Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, abbreviated as MNCARS) is Madrid’s national museum of 20th-century art. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain’s greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Juan Gris, and Julio González. Certainly the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s painting Guernica. The Reina Sofía also hosts a free-access library specialising in art, with a collection of over 100,000 books, over 3,500 sound recordings, and almost 1,000 videos.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) is an art museum that fills the historical gaps in its counterparts’ collections: in the Prado’s case, this includes Italian primitives and works from the English, Dutch, and German schools, while in the case of the Reina Sofía, the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, once the second largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection, includes Impressionists, Expressionists, and European and American paintings from the second half of the 20th century, with over 1,600 paintings.
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