The building that is now the home of the Prado Museum was designed in 1785 yet its final function wasn't decided until Ferdinand VII the monarch's grandson, encouraged by his wife, decided to use it as a new Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures. The Royal Museum, which soon became known as the Museo Nacional del Prado, was first open to the public in November 1819. The main aim of El Prado was to display the works of art belonging to the Spanish Crown and to show the rest of Europe that Spanish art was of equal merit to any other nation's art.
The Prado obtains collections based on the former Spanish Royal Collection and houses some of the world's finest European art, dating from the 12th to the early 19th century. The museum's main exposition is dedicated to the numerous works by Francisco de Goya the most extensively represented artist in El Prado. Among other highlights are masterpieces by Diego Velázquez such as the famous Las Meninas, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch.
As of today the collection is made up of over 7600 paintings, 1000 sculptures, 4800 prints and 8200 drawings, as well as a large number of other works of art and historic documents.
Receiving more than 2 million visitors annually the Prado is admired by people from all over the world and is considered one the greatest museums of art on the globe, thus it is an absolute must-visit when in Madrid.