Spain has played a key role in Western art, heavily influenced by French and Italian artists but very distinct in its own regard, owing to the nation's history of Muslim influence, Counter-Reformation climate and, later, the hardships from the decline of the Spanish empire, giving rise to such noted artists like El Greco, Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya. In the last century, Spain's unique position in Europe brought forth some of the leading artists of the Modernist and Surrealist movements, most notably the famed Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
Today, Spain's two largest cities hold the lion's share of Spain's most famous artworks. Madrid's Museum Triangle is home to the Museo del Prado, the largest art museum in Spain with many of the most famous works by El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya as well as some notable works by Italian, Flemish, Dutch and German masters. Nearby sits the Reina Sofia, most notable for holding Picasso's Guernica but also containing a number of works by Dalí and other Modernist, Surrealist and abstract painters.
Barcelona is renowned for its stunning collection of modern and contemporary art and architecture. This is where you will find the Picasso Museum, which covers the artist's early career quite well, and the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi, with their twisting organic forms that are a delight to look at. A day trip from Barcelona is the town of Figures, noted for the Salvador Dali Museum, designed by the Surrealist himself.
Outside of Madrid and Barcelona, the art museums quickly dwindle in size and importance, although there are a couple of worthy mentions that should not be looked over: Many of El Greco's most famous works lie in Toledo, an easy day trip from Madrid. The Disrobing of Christ, perhaps El Greco's most famous work, sits in the Cathedral, but you can also find work by him in one of the small art museums around town. Valladolid is home to the National Museum of Sculpture, with an extensive collection ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Bilbao in the Basque Country of northern Spain is home to the spectacular Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry that has put the city on the map.
Art Lovers will be fascinated with guided visits to the Prado Museum in Madrid and El Greco's works in Toledo on tour during TIKI TOURS Spain and Portugal tour (departing October 2018 and 2019).