Every Sunday in Madrid, an enormous outdoor flea market called El Rastro is held near the center of the city. After wasting my Saturday entirely recovering my lost hours of sleep from the night before, I decided that if I was going to do anything, it would be exploring El Rastro!
I took my sweet time getting up and ready for my afternoon out and about, but finally made my way toward the center of the city. Along the way, I met up with my friend Jordan, who would be joining me on my Sunday expedition. I had absolutely NO idea what I was getting myself into. The streets in which El Rastro was held were completely packed with people. Booths lined either side of the walkway and it was nearly impossible to go more than five feet without bumping into another person. The market itself was quite a sight, though, and there were many vendors with incredibly cheap deals for fantastic looking items.
We spent a couple hours browsing the market before grabbing a quick bite to eat at a nearby Chinese restaurant. You can certainly taste the difference between American and Spanish style Chinese food! After lunch, Jordan and I parted ways, and I ran into a couple of USAC students on the metro as I was heading home. The pair invited me to join them to El Museo – Reina Sofía, and I accepted graciously, looking forward to my first museum experience in the city.
Reina Sofía is the city’s 20th century art museum, housing a variety of collections from Spanish artists of the past century. Familiar names–Dalí, Picasso, Miró, Man Rey, and the like–graced the many rooms of the museum, and I was excited to see some of my favorite artists and movements represented. We made our way from room to room, taking our time to view the vast array of artwork. A variety of paintings, sculptures, notebooks, and films showcased the diversity of many of the artists. The two pieces I was most excited for belonged to my two favorite artists: Muchacha en la Ventana by Dalí and Guernica by Picasso.
Though Muchacha en la Ventana isn’t my favorite of Dalí’s work overall, it marked my first time ever viewing a piece by my absolute most favorite artist. I especially loved that my first piece of his wasn’t a surrealist piece. Though the Reina Sofía did offer a couple of Dalí’s more surrealist works, this piece was my favorite in the gallery. Guernica, on the other hand, had me nearly in tears. This absolutely huge Picasso hung on a dimly lit wall of the museum, and was the only painting to be seen on any of the four walls. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the piece, which was 11.5 feet tall and just over 25 feet wide. The layers of the painting, the detail, the overall simplicity and yet complexity of the piece…it all took my breath away. I am truly honored to have been able to see it in person.
After having such a great experience at el Museo de Reina Sofía, I can’t wait to experience more of the museums here in the city, as well as in the rest of Spain (since the many Dalí museums in Cataluña are on my bucket list). I must and will satisfy my inner artist as much and as often as possible!!