What an eclectic and fascinating city! There are approximately five million people living in Madrid. Walking through the city felt similar to walking through New York, taxis weave through the streets, walking traffic everywhere, small shops and restaurants, and a diverse population.
Above is a picture of me in front of the Palacio Real de Madrid. The palace has been rebuilt several times dating back to the tenth century but construction on the current palace dates back to 1764. The palace was occupied by many former kings and queens up until King Alfonso XIII and the start of the Spanish civil war in the 1930’s. Now the palace is used for official state events and as a tourist attraction. It remains the second largest palace in the world. Attempting to describe the building’s grand scale and elegance and offer you readers any true sense of what the building actually feels like is difficult. The building is hundreds of yards long. It has 2800 rooms. Marble floors, painted ceilings in the style of Michelangelo, massive columns, dining halls fit for hundreds, famous artwork and sculptures. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted inside the building.
After walking through the gates of the Palacio Real I came to a massive courtyard. Behind a large row of arches at the back of the courtyard was an overview of the city of Madrid. I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between where I stood and what I looked out upon.
Madrid is one of the richest cultural centers in Spain and we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit the Museo del Prado, one of the most prominent collections of art in all of Europe. We examined paintings by Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, and El Greco. El Greco “The Greek” was born in Crete but is considered a key figure of the Spanish Renaissance. He developed his art and completed his masterpiece, The Burial of Señor Orgaz (formerly known as Count Orgaz) in Toledo, Spain. El Greco lived his last thirty-seven years in Toledo, the former Spanish capital. One painting of El Greco’s we examined at length was The Adoration of the Shepherds.
A couple of questions to consider… How is light working? Why is the world so dark? How are bodies constructed in the painting? Why were they painted this way? How does this painting compare to other paintings and painters, for example Michelangelo, of the Renaissance? How is El Greco offering a new perspective on reality (remember this is before the advent of photography)?
That’s all for this week, faithful readers. Next week, some notable differences between Spain and the United States. Stay tuned!