|We took a trip back to Madrid with our program, and did nearly everything historical you can think of in Madrid. After a lovely 5 hour bus ride we went straight to El Prado: a very very very famous museum with lots of very famous paintings. I saw the actual Las Meninas, Señora Salmon!! It was much bigger than I thought it would be. We also saw a room full of Goya's "Pinturas Negras" (very creepy, but cool nonetheless), and lots of cool mythological paintings. After the museum we had some free time to do whatever we wanted, so a small group of us went to check out the Archaeological Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we went to the park to lay in the grass and catch some sun.
The next day we visited El Escorial: a large palace/library/mausoleum/church/etc. built by Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera for the king Felipe II (I am taking an art class, and we studied this building quite thoroughly). The building is located a little outside Madrid, and it is HUGE! We went on a tour all around the building, and throughout the entire tour I had no idea where I was. It was basically a giant maze. And the craziest thing (in my opinion) about this incredible building is that it only took 22 years to construct. I still find it hard to believe that in the 1500s they were able to build such a thing so quickly without any of the modern technology we have today to help. Crazy.
The next day we went to Segovia (what we did there can be found in the Segovia journal entry). After that we spent one more full day in Madrid on a group tour around the city and a visit to the Museo Reina Sofía: another very famous museum with modern art. Here, I saw the most amazing painting of all (another one I learned about in your class, Señora Salmon!) Picasso's famous La Guernica. If you are not familiar with this painting I encourage you to check it out of Google images, then check out its dimensions. This painting was ENORMOUS. It had it's own room, it's own lights, and even it's own guards that stood by making sure no one was taking any photos. My favorite part about this museum was this painting and the rooms that surrounded it, which contained Picasso's many rough drafts of each specific part of the painting. I found it fascinating to be able to witness his though process as he must have spent hundreds of hours planning out every single detail to perfect his masterpiece.
Finally, the last day we went to Toledo (which is also in a separate journal entry). Overall I really enjoyed Madrid and loved getting to see all the history of the famous city.