In an attempt to spare everyone from various posts each time I travel to Madrid, I decided to combine two different trips into one post. Last Tuesday, a few of my friends and I went on a field trip with our program director to see the Museo del Prado in Madrid. We walked around the city for a bit at first, but as you’ll notice, I won’t be posting any pictures of that since most of my pictures are the same as ones I have previously posted. We started our trip off by passing the National Library which is closed off to those who don’t have a specific library pass, and made our way over to a local brewery. I was one of “those” people who ordered a soda at the beer factory so try not to judge me too much. The reason why we held off on going to the museum until later in the afternoon was because most big tourist attractions in Madrid as well as throughout Spain have free visiting hours (which is definitely something to look into before making plans when traveling around Spain) and it just so happens that the Del Prado Museum’s free hours are in the late afternoon. By the time 6 o’clock in the evening came around, we stood in line and got in for free. (Something you’ll quickly realize when traveling abroad is that anything free is a huge perk!). Seeing as the Del Prado Museum has over 7,000 paintings and is known to be one of the biggest and most famous museums in the world, it was jam-packed everywhere we turned. Our professor walked us around and showed us the main paintings and gave us a history lesson on each one and unfortunately, the museum prohibits picture taking, but I was lucky enough to get one picture in before finding out that I wasn’t allowed to do so. We saw paintings by famous artists including El Greco, Murillo, Goya, and Velazquez, and each one was more interesting than the next! It was truly amazing to see what kind of history and in-depth background information each and every painting has. Museo Del Prado is definitely a “Must” on any to-do list in Madrid, and it was really a great, culturing experience as well!
This past Tuesday, one of my classes took an excursion to Madrid as well, and we went to el Barrio de Letras, a quarter in Madrid dedicated to famous authors and poets from back in the day. As we walked around the quarter, we saw where certain authors grew up, where they gained inspiration for novels and stories, and even a famous cathedral where a lot of them got married. I had to write a paper on our trip so I’m pretty much just going to translate it into English and use it here. (Hey at least I’m honest).
Before the excursion officially began, we saw the House of Congress, surrounded by police officers (which was definitely a cool sight to see). Our trip to el Barrio de las Letras commenced at a statue of Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes was the one who wrote Don Quijote de la Mancha, the second most translated book in the world (after the Bible). We then walked over to Lope de Vega’s house which is also a museum. Cervantes and Lope de Vega didn’t exactly see eye to eye, and Cervantes even referred to him as a “monster” because Lope de Vega wrote over 3,000 plays during his lifetime, an incredible number of works! (And most of us find it hard to find enough days in the week to keep up with our blogging). Not to mention, Vega was recognized for them while he was still alive, whereas Cervantes was recognized after he died.
After learning about the rivalry between the two authors, we walked along a street famous for providing inspiration to Cervantes. He was known to write various scenes of Don Quijote on this particular street, so it was pretty cool to see where he gained some of his inspiration from. We progressed on and saw yet another famous author’s house, Don Francesco de Ovedo Villegas. Not too far from here was a street dedicated to gossiping. Since works from this time period were known to criticize society, authors had the actors of their plays gossip as a means of getting the critizing across. So it was only suitable to have a street dedicated to gossiping and criticizing society and the lives of others, right?
Back to Cervantes, he had requested to be buried in the Convent of the Trinity (el convento de las trinitarias) and was in fact buried there, but his tomb was removed a few years later to an unknown location. Finally, we concluded our trip with la iglesia de San Sebastian (a church) where Cervantes had his funeral (not burial) and where many authors of this time were baptized or had their weddings and/or other processions. Unfortunately, the museums and the cathedral were closed by the time we got there, but it was still neat to be able to walk through “literary history” in Madrid.