MADRID, SPAIN. Madrid’s Paseo del Arte, literally meaning “Art Walk,” spans from past to present. On the one hand, there’s the Museo del Prado (Prado Museum), housing Spain’s most important masterworks, including Velázquez, Goya and many more. In 1990, came the counterpart for modern art with the opening of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Known among locals simply as the Reina Sofía, this museum is a must-visit for art lovers, who will be fascinated by its art, architecture and history.


The Reina Sofía Museum houses Spain’s most important modern art collection. Essentially, the collection is divided into three time frames: the first from 1900-1945, the second from 1945-1968, and the third from 1968-1982.

Without a doubt, its most important masterwork is Picasso’s Guernica (1937), which finally found a home here after years of exile in New York City’s MoMA and a subsequent time at the Prado.

Along with more of Picasso’s masterworks, you’ll find all of the following periods represented: avant-garde, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, post-war art, postmodernism and more.


In fact, the art exhibited is closely linked with the architecture in which it is housed. Following the footsteps of I.M. Pei’s pyramid for the Louvre, and Norman Foster’s dome for the Great Court of the British Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, too, recently called on an internationally renowned architect for an addition. In 2001, the collaboration with architect Jean Nouvel began for what eventually ended as the Nouvel Building, an extension that increased the museum’s surface area by 60%.

Here, you’ll find added exhibition space, including a two-floor art itinerary that starts with the Battle of Algiers and the Cuban Revolution, as well as an auditorium, the bookshop, the library and more.


But all that modernity isn’t to discredit the history of the original building, also known as the Edificio Sabatini. The imposing stone walls and long corridors were once part of the San Carlos hospital, founded by King Felipe II in the 16th century. “It was here that all of the hospitals dispersed throughout the Court were centralized,” reports the Reina Sofía. “In the eighteenth century, Carlos III decided to found another hospital, as these facilities did not meet the city’s needs. The present building is the work of architects José de Hermosilla and Francisco Sabatini, who was responsible for a large part of its construction.”

In 1965, the hospital was shut down. The building, however, was declared a national monument and in 1986 opened as the Reina Sofía museum. Two years later then came the three steel and glass elevator towers, designed by architects José Luis Iñiguez de Onzoño and Antonio Vázquez de Castro, in collaboration with British architect Ian Ritchie.


And if all of the above isn’t enough, you’ll be glad to know that the Reina Sofía Museum has two further exhibition spaces: the Palacio de Cristal and the Palacio de Velázquez, both of which are located in the Retiro Park. With rotating exhibitions, these two are a great complement to the headquarters. Be sure to check out the museum website to find out about temporary exhibits, as well as public programs which take place across all four of the spaces. The Reina Sofía will make sure you’re always busy and entertained.


Edificio Sabatini Access

Calle Santa Isabel 52

28012 Madrid

Tel. +34 91 774 1000

Metro: Atocha.

Mon-Sat:10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m.-2.30 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.

Ticket prices: General admission: 6 EUR Temporary exhibit only: 3 EUR

Madrid Art pass: 21.60 EUR (Prado, Thyssen & Reina Sofía)

Free admission days: Monday to Friday from 19:00 to 21:00 * Saturday from 14:30 to 21:00 Sunday from 10:00 to 14:30 18 April, 18 May, 12 October, 6 December * Except for booked groups

Free admission with valid student I.D.

Online tickets: