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Tucked away in a small square behind El Corte Inglés in the city centre, this convent still inhabited by barefoot nuns was founded by the sister of King Phillip II and the noble ladies who took the orders brought along family heirlooms which form the core of the collection. There are paintings by Titian, Rubens, Van Cleve and other old masters, along with priceless religious objects, tapestries and other treasures.
Plaza de lasDescalzas
Tel: +34 91 547 5350
Metro Callao or Sol
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 9am-5pm. Sun and holidays 9am-2pm
Entrance fee: Basic Fee: EUR 7. Reduced Rate: EUR 4.
Wednesday and Thursday in the afternoon, free entry for EUcitizens, resident and work permit holders in that area and Latin American citizens, with proof of nationality or residence/work permit.
The seventh Marqués of Cerralbo snapped up an eclectic array of goodies from around the world during a long military and diplomatic career, then put them all on display in his imposing home near Plaza de España. Works by such painters as El Greco, Zubarán and Ribera adorn walls of rooms stuffed with elegant furniture while cabinets and shelves are chock-a-block with fine porcelain, antique weapons, fancy timepieces, ethnic handicrafts and lots more.
Calle Ventura Rodriguez, 17
Tel: +34 91 547 3646
Metro Plaza de España or Ventura Rodriguez
Opening hours: Tues – Sat 9.30am-3pm. Sun and holidays 10am-2pm. Closed Monday
Entrance fee: EUR 2.40
Another personal treasure trove, this one amassed by wealthy businessman and journalist José Lázaro Galdiano who over the years acquired an impressive collection of paintings from each of the major European schools. Works by all the Spanish greats, a drawing attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci and paintings by the English masters Constable, Gainsborough and Reynolds are among the highlights of the 15,000 items contained in the recently renovated mansion in the tiny neighborhood of Barrio Salamanca.
Calle Serrano, 122
Tel: +34 91 561 6084
Metro Nuñez de Balboa or Gregorio Marañon
Opening hours: Daily 10am-4.30pm
Entrance fee: EUR 4. Free on Weds
It wasn't just gold and silver the Spaniards hauled back from their American colonies, but archaeological riches as well. Located in the capital's university district, this museum boasts a wide range of pre-Colombian artifacts from all over the hemisphere including gold figurines from Colombia, Mayan carvings and drawings from Mexico, a leopard mask from the Andes and a beautiful Hawaiian cape fashioned entirely with bright feathers.
Avenida de los Reyes Catolicos 6
Tel: +34 91 543 9437
Opening hours: From 1 May to 31 October: 09:30am - 8:30pm. From 1 November to 30 April: 09:30am - 6:30pm.
Entrance fee: EUR 3
One of the few museums in the world created especially for the blind and visually-impaired, it was set up by ONCE (Spanish National Organization for the Blind) and features displays designed to be touched and handled. Along with scale model replicas of world-famous monuments like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, the museum also has sections on how the blind fared through history, the development of Braille and paintings by blind artists.
Calle La Coruña 18
Tel: +34 91 589 4219
Opening hours Tues – Fri 10am-2pm and 5pm-8pm. Sat 10am-2pm. Closed Sun and Mon. Closed August
A native son of Valencia, Joaquin Sorrolla was fascinated by the light of the Mediterranean and is famous for his paintings of women and children at the seaside. Sorolla's Madrid home has been turned into a museum/shrine to his life's work, which also depicted scenes of everyday life and native costumes of other Spanish regions. Visitors can view his studio, storeroom and family rooms largely as he left them.
Paseo de General Martiez Campos, 37
Tel: +34 91 3101584
Metro: Iglesia, Ruben Dario or Gregorio Marañon
Opening hours: Tues – Sat 9.30am-3pm, Sun and holidays 10am-3pm. Closed Mondays
Entrance fee: EUR 3.
Located in the city's Las Ventas bullring, the Mecca of the international bullfighting world, this museum contains busts and paintings of famous matadors, posters of historical fights, suits worn by star bullfighters, swords, capes and lots of bulls heads. Bullfighting is not everyone's cup of tea but the displays here provide a fascinating insight into what is considered Spain's national pastime, although some would argue fútbol is número uno.
Calle Alcala, 237
Tel: 91 725 1857
Opening hours Tues – Fri 9.30-2.30pm.. Sun and holidays 10am-1pm
Despite its name, this grand building just behind Plaza Colon contains fine examples of the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations excavated outside the country, and, of course, a fascinating collection of artifacts from all over Spain dating from prehistoric times to the previous century. There is a faithful replica of the famous Altamira cave drawings from northern Spain and the Lady of Elche bust.
Calle Serrano, 13
Tel: +34 91 577 7912
Metro Serrano or Colon
Opening hours Tues – Sat. 9.30am-8.30pm. Sun and holidays 9.30am-2.30pm. Closed Mon.
Entrance fee: Free
Expatica's Getting Started section will provide practical information on how you can open a bank account, exchange your driving licence, improve your Spanish, and more.
Here's a guide to an extensive list of groups and clubs in Madrid for expats, from sports groups to social and family gatherings.
A brief introduction to our Tax section for Spain, from help with inheritance tax to accounting advice.
Here's a short introduction to our Banking section for those living in Spain, from what to ask the experts to opening a Spanish bank account.