Visiting museums and galleries is often high on the itinerary of travellers around Europe. And Madrid should be no exception. The Spanish capital is home to tens of excellent cultural offerings, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is one of the best.
In Spanish the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, this must-visit museum is on the city’s Art Walk, sometimes known as the Golden Triangle of Art, alongside the Prado and the Reina Sofía Art Centre.
In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know before you get to the Thyssen. We’ll help with how to get there from other parts of Madrid, highlight some features of the collection, and share a little history of the museum. Then, we’ll let you in on some of our favourite restaurants, bars, and shops near the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and finish off with opening times and ticket prices. Here we go…
Getting to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
If you’re staying close to the centre of Madrid, you might be able to walk to the Thyssen. Walking is the best way to get around the city, as long as it’s not too far, since it lets you explore streets you might otherwise miss.
Still, if you’re travelling from a little further away or you’re pushed for time, you might want to hop on public transport to get there. Madrid’s public transport network includes easy-to-navigate buses, trains, trams, and metro services. We like the metro, for its speedy journey times and convenient stops scattered around the city.
Which station is nearest to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum?
There are a few metro stations near the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which means you can choose the one that caters to you best. If you have access to a line two (red) service, take it to either Sevilla or Banco de España, whichever you arrive at first depending on your direction. You could also take a line one (turquoise) service to Antón Martín, which is just a short walk away.
Choosing a transport ticket in Madrid
There are a few options when it comes to choosing your transport tickets in Madrid. If you only need to ride once or twice, buy a single or return fare at any station. If you think you’ll rely on public transport a lot while you’re in Madrid, you’ll be best off buying a multi-day tourist ticket.
To pick up a multi-day ticket, you’ll need to get your hands on a Tarjeta Multi contactless travel card and load it up with the number of days you require. You can get one of these from any station, or from some tobacco shops and other retailers around the city.
Tip: when you load a multi-day tourist pass onto your Tarjeta Multi, you’ll get the card thrown in for free!
What to see at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
The Thyssen is home to an excellent permanent collection and also hosts exciting temporary exhibitions. The permanent display includes lots of names we’re sure you’ll be familiar with – think Rubens, Monet, Van Gogh, Gaugin, and more – and others you may not have heard of.
There are almost 1,000 paintings to see, spanning from the 13th to the 20th century. Be sure to set aside plenty of time to wander around. Let’s take a look at some of the museum’s masterpieces.
- Portrait of Henry VIII of England by Hans Holbein the Younger
- The Annunciation by El Greco
- Venus and Cupid by Peter Paul Rubens
- Self-portrait wearing a hat and two chains by Rembrandt van Rijn
- Family Group in a Landscape by Frans Hals
- Swaying Dancer by Edgar Degas
- Horsewoman, Full-Face by Édouard Manet
- Les Vessenots in Auvers by Vincent Van Gogh
- Seated Man by Paul Cézanne
- Metropolis by George Grosz
- Harlequin with a Mirror by Pablo Picasso
- Hotel Room by Edward Hopper
- Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second before Waking by Salvador Dalí
- Woman in Bath by Roy Lichtenstein
- Portrait of George Dyer in a Mirror by Francis Bacon
Walking around the Thyssen-Bornemisza, look out for all of these masterpieces and more. You can explore the museum in whatever way suits you, including on a thematic journey through art.
Some of the themes you can study at the Thyssen include ‘Wine Culture’, ‘Inclusive Love’, ‘Women Artists of the Russian Avant-Garde’, ‘Food’, ‘Sustainability’, and ‘Fashion’. Buy tickets to one of these unique tours and enjoy an in-depth look at the theme of your choice.
Note: Thematic tours use audio guides. You can use your own smartphone and headphones to access the content or take a single-use set from the Audioguides desk at the museum.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum History and Facts
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum takes its name from the family who built the collection. The Thyssen-Bornemisza family developed their personal collection over two generations. Impressive works, with names like Rubens, Rembrandt, O’Keefe, Picasso, Kandinsky, and more add their unique style to the hoard.
The collection includes works from all the significant movements of Western art from the 13th to the 20th century. So we have to thank Baron Henrich and his son, Baron Hans Henrich, for their exquisite artistic taste.
Let’s take a look at the history of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection and how it became what it is today.
While his son and grandson are responsible for the collection we know today, August Thyssen-Bornemisza has a lot to do with the family’s passion for art. August commissioned now-iconic sculptor Rodin to create a series of seven marble figures as the start of a collection.
Unfortunately, August Thyssen-Bornemisza died before his Rodin commission was finished, and the sculptures that were complete were passed to some of his family in Germany. Thanks to August’s correspondence with Rodin, his son Henrich became inspired to start his own collection. And we’re so glad he did!
Did you know? Four of the intended seven Rodin sculptures are on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
Father and son collecting
Henrich gathered art for his entire life and continued adding the works of the old masters to his collection even throughout the difficulties of the post-war era. When he died in 1947, Henrich had acquired an impressive 525 pieces of art. Hans Henrich, his son, took control of the collection after his father’s death.
Hans worked hard to gather back the paintings that were scattered about in his father’s inheritance and started buying his own pieces. He became interested in modern styles like Impressionism, Pop Art, and Hyperrealism. This is where lots of the 20th-century pieces at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum come from.
Moving the collection to Madrid
Both father and son developed their collection intending to share it with as many people as possible. By the 1980s, Hans’ old exhibition rooms were becoming too small for the ever-growing Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. He needed a new location. Several governments offered this to the collector, including the Getty Foundation in LA, and the British and German governments.
As we know, the Spanish government won the collection. In 1988, the Spanish proposed moving the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection to the Villahermosa Palace in Madrid. They guaranteed the protection and preservation of the art and promised to keep the entire assembly together. Hans’ Spanish wife might have had a little something to do with it, too!
A nine-year agreement was signed, and Thyssen-Bornemisza handed over the works to Madrid. In return, the city set about restoring the Palace and established a foundation to ensure enough funds would be available to manage the collection properly.
The king and queen of Spain inaugurated the museum in 1992, and it was an instant hit with the public and critics.
The Art Triangle
You might hear Madrilenians talking about the city’s ‘Art Triangle’, and how much you need to visit while you’re in town. This refers to the trio of world-class art museums within a stone’s throw of each other. They are the Prado Museum, the Museo Reina Sofía, and – of course – the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
The international paintings in the Thyssen are the perfect complement to both the Prado, home to many of the old masters, and the Reina Sofía’s modern collection.
The Carmen Thyssen Museum
What’s this? Another Thyssen museum in Madrid? That’s right! Carmen Thyssen is the Spanish wife of Hans we mentioned earlier. With the help of her husband, Carmen started to build her own art collection. After he died in 2002, these pieces were added to the family legacy. But there wasn’t much space left inside the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
The Spanish government bought two buildings near the Villahermosa Palace to display these new pieces. So be sure to visit the Carmen Thyssen Museum too for the full experience!
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
The neighbourhood just west of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is called Cortes and is a hub for literature and arts. It’s a perfect place for a drink or something to eat after you’ve visited the family collection – picture pockets of traditional tapas bars and bustling, trendy squares.
The best restaurants and bars near the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
We’re going to focus on Cortes, since it’s one of our favourite parts of Madrid and perfectly situated to visit after the Thyssen. Here are some of the best spots to check out while you’re there.
- Grama Lounge – this is a relaxed restaurant and cocktail bar where you can enjoy a selection of tapas-style bites and tasty drinks.
- Moratin Vinoteca Bistrot – a great little restaurant, Moratin Vinoteca serves a small, well-considered menu and excellent wine to pair.
- Motteau Pasteleria – European bakeries are always a treat, and Motteau is no exception. Grab delicious sweet and savoury bites to takeaway or perch inside and enjoy!
- CEBO – this Michelin star restaurant in Cortes serves creative Spanish cuisine in an elegant setting.
- Inclan Brutal Bar – this authentic tapas restaurant has a lighthearted, stylish vibe that makes it perfect for a fun dining experience with friends.
- El Sur de Huertas Tavern – more great tapas in a modern, minimal setting. An easy way to win.
- Salmon Guru – this is a creative cocktail bar with lots to choose from. Salmon Guru is a favourite for lighthearted drinks with friends or family.
- Los Desamparados – an Asian-Spanish fusion restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere.
Head to one of our recommendations or simply wander around Cortes. You’re sure to stumble on something special in this beautiful part of Madrid.
Shopping at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
If you’re looking for a unique retail experience in Madrid, why not pop into the Thyssen-Bornemisza shop? This art and culture gift shop is packed with exciting things to take home. Pick up a print of your favourite masterpiece, some beautiful independent homeware, or a stylish and insightful coffee-table book from the collection. There are plenty of perfect gifts available too!
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Opening Times and Ticket Prices
When you’re planning a visit to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, you’ll need to check the opening times and ticket prices yourself online. Here we’ll provide some recent figures, but these are subject to change. It’s a good idea to book your tickets online in advance to reserve a timeslot and avoid disappointment when you arrive.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is open from 12:00 to 16:00 on Mondays, and from 10:00 to 19:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.
Tip: while the opening hours are reduced on Mondays, the entry will be free! It can be busier because of this, so weigh up the pros and cons when making your decision.
How much does it cost to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum?
The most recent ticket prices for the Thyssen Museum are as follows.
Children (under 18)
Whenever you visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza, whether you catch a temporary exhibition or explore the permanent collection, we’re sure it’ll be a highlight of your time in Madrid.
Taking the train to Madrid
Thanks to the efficient service run by Renfe – Spain’s national train company – it’s easy to reach Madrid by train. High-speed AVE trains can get you from Barcelona to Madrid in 2h 30m on the fastest services, Valencia to Madrid in 1h 40m and Seville to Madrid in 2h 30m. Trains to Madrid arrive into one of the city’s two main stations – Madrid Atocha or Madrid Chamartín; look out for the botanical garden if you arrive into the former!
Want to learn more about travelling by rail in Spain? Read our guide to trains in Spain, your one-stop-shop for all things rail. Our Renfe page also gives you the lowdown on Spain’s national train operator, including how to find the cheapest tickets.