Madrid's El Prado is one of them big monster museums that can eat up your entire trip to a great European city. Go inside any such place and your entire 4 day stop in Florence, St. Petersburg, Paris or Rome could vanish in a blink, simply because it took that much time to fully admire the contents of the Uffizi, the State Hermitage Museum, the Louvre or the Vatican Galleries. The scale of El Prado, Madrid's own Uffizi/Hermitage/Louvre/Vatican, is foretold in any tourist guide book listing the principal celebrity art works that reside there (Velazquez's Las Meninas, El Greco's Pentecost, Goya's Maja Desnuda and Tres de Mayo, Pieter Breughel the Elder's Triumph of Death and Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights cap off the shortlist version).
In honor of El Prado, I decided to post about my five favorite surprise art encounters there; paintings I hadn't been looking for or (in all but one case) even knew of the existence of prior to visiting, but which stopped me in my tracks, held my attention and tickled my fancy senseless in unexpected ways.... as two days of strolling the halls and recircling back to them will attest.
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