Correction: Travel-Trip-5 Free Things-Madrid story

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm •  Published: December 20, 2013
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MADRID (AP) — In a story Dec. 19 about free things to do in Madrid, The Associated Press erroneously reported hours for free admission at the Prado. The hours are Monday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., not 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

A corrected version of the story is below:

5 free things in Madrid, from symphonies to art

5 free things to do in Madrid, from visiting art galleries to hearing symphony orchestras

By HAROLD HECKLE

Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Spain has for decades been among the world's top tourist destinations, mainly thanks to sun-seekers who flock each year to Mediterranean beaches or the Canary Islands. The Spanish capital, with its vast array of bars, restaurants and a rocket-propelled nightlife that often causes traffic jams at 3 a.m., has always appealed to fun-lovers as well as travelers with an interest in history and culture. While top-end hotels and restaurants are expensive, it comes as a relief to find that some of Madrid's best features can be enjoyed for free.

PRADO

Few museums boast a permanent collection as rich and historically important as that of Madrid's El Prado. For anyone with an interest in art, it is a must-see.

Many of the Prado's works were collected or commissioned by Spain's art-loving royalty in centuries past when the country was a fabulously wealthy superpower with a vast, global empire. Then, in 1819, King Ferdinand VII opened the doors of his private collection to the public. The collection was later boosted by the contents of two major museums.

Among masterworks on show are the iconic "The Annunciation," painted by Fra Angelico in the 15th century, Hieronymus Bosch's vivid 16th century triptych "The Garden of Earthly Delights" and Albrecht Duerer's piercing "Self-portrait." However, the museum's most popular works are the remarkably versatile Francisco Goya's canvases, etchings and tapestries — including his Black Paintings, such as "Saturn devouring one of his sons" — and, notably, Diego Velazquez's priceless masterworks including "Las Meninas."

Around 2 million people visit the Prado each year. Normally, admission costs 14 euros ($19), but, for those in the know, there is a way to get in for free. Every day from Monday-Saturday, access is free between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., while on Sundays and public holidays it is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For those able to plan ahead, each year there are two whole days where entry is free: Nov. 19 (the Prado's anniversary) and May 18 (International Museum Day). Details: http://www.museodelprado.es/en/. ?

RETIRO

At the heart of Madrid lies Retiro Park, a beautifully tended 350-acre (1.4 square-kilometer) garden space where city-dwellers go to get away from the metropolitan hubbub. Originally the formal gardens of a medieval palace, it became King Philip II's 16th century refuge from court preoccupations, as well as his religious retreat — hence its name.

Retiro offers all you would expect from a showcase city park: leafy walks, bicycle rides, superb horticulture, row-boats and cooling fountains. But it is also packed with cultural surprises. It contains three free museums — Casa de Vacas, Palacio de Velazquez and Palacio de Cristal — the last being a wonderfully preserved iron-framed glasshouse. Napoleon Bonaparte's invading army camped here in the early 1800s and razed the palace, but a fisherman's cottage from the era survived. Children shriek with delight at a proper, brick-built puppet theatre and grown-ups muse over games of chess or watch an ancient form of bowling that uses a semi-circular object pitched overarm at the pins. Details: http://www.madridtourist.info/buen_retiro_park.html.



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