Travel Style
Art & Architecture

Gallery Hopping in Spain & Portugal

The countries of the Iberian Peninsula have a style and flair all their own. They are havens of some of Europe's finest art galleries from the great masters to the avant-garde.

Gallery hopping is very rewarding in Spain and Portugal where some of the world's finest creations are on display. Let's do a sort of circle tour starting in northern Spain noting the most popular and interesting galleries along the way.

Art isn't confined to public galleries however. Throughout your travels, you'll come across interesting artistic and architectural sights as well as artists at work. Spain and Portugal have style to spare and artistic expression is alive and well in these vibrant countries.


  • Bilbao - The Guggenheim Museum of modern art is as popular for its unique design by world-famous architect, Frank Gehry, as for its modern art collection which includes works by Kandinsky, Picasso, Miro, Dali, Modigliani, Mondrian, Matisse, Klee, Pollock, Chagall, Leger and Moholy-Nagy.
  • Figueras - Visit the Salvador Dali Museum in the home town of the most famous Surrealist.
  • Barcelona - The home of Gaudi, Picasso and Miro is a Mecca for the lover of art and architecture deserving of its own page. Click the tab above for
      Barcelona - Centre of Art and Architecture.
  • Madrid - Spain has the largest collection of paintings in Europe and Madrid leads the way with three world class galleries.
    • El Prado - Mainly Spanish Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art as well as major European masters including Rubens and Rembrandt.
    • Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Reina Sofia - The home of Picasso's famous Guernica along with other 20th century contemporary art works.
    • Thyssen-Bornemisza - Romantic religious art to impressionism by mainly European masters.
  • Valencia - This centre of futuristic architecture is also home to several worthwhile galleries.
    • Valencia d'Arte Modern - One of Spain's leading modern galleries.
    • Museo de Bellas Artes - Works by Spanish artists Velazquez, Van Dyck, Goya and El Greco.
    • Lladro City of Porcelain Museum - The famous porcelain art and figurines are made in Valencia.
  • Malaga - The popular Museo Picasso is just a few minutes from the artist's birthplace, Casa Natal.


  • Évora - The City Museum, next to the Cathedral, has a good collection of Portuguese and European painting from 15th and 16th centuries, ceramics, Roman tablets, and medieval and Baroque jewellery.
  • Lisbon - Portugal is a living museum of glazed tiles or Azulejos which have adorned buildings since the 15th century. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisbon is the best place to learn the history, technical and artistic evolution of these magnificent, artistic tiles.
    Lisbon's most notable art gallery is the Centro de Arte Moderna, featuring works by many Portuguese artists.
    • At Galeria 111 modern local artists exhibit their works.
    • The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga houses paintings, ceramics and sketches, along with various city artefacts.
    • For a number of Henry Moore sculptures, photographs and some Portuguese-themed paintings, visit the Museu do Centro de Arte Moderna.
    • Some of the best contemporary paintings and sculptures are found in the Museu da Arte Popular.
  • Oporto - This north-coastal city is home to two major galleries. The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis features international art form Neolithic carvings to 20th century. A collection of modern art is found in the Museu de Arte Contemporânea.
  • Vila Real - Noted for its Baroque architecture, the crowning glory is the Casa de Mateus, a magnificent estate which houses a fine collection of 17th and 18th century paintings, silverware and ceramics.
  • Vale do Côa - Something completely different is the open-air, Palaeolithic art gallery in the countryside of northeast Portugal. The UNESCO World Heritage site of the Vale do Côa is an archaeological park uncovering the secrets of the Palaeolithic Age to the Iron Age including prehistoric rock art.

By Susan Milne

Barcelona: Centre of Art and Architecture

A major centre of art and architecture in Europe, Barcelona never fails to impress visitors.

The capital of the Catalunya region is unique in the world. It's easy to explore on your own or take a guided tour to learn more about the artists who lived here and their work.

These are the highlights:

  • The Church of the Sagrada Familia is Barcelona's most famous landmark and the masterpiece of Spain's greatest 20th-century architect, Antoni Gaudi. The very unusual church is still under construction following Gaudi's modernist plans.
  • Other Gaudi structures include Casa Batlló, Park Guell and Gaudi Casa-Museu, the pink castle-style house where Gaudi lived, now a museum.
  • The Museu Picasso displays works from the master's formative years. It is a few blocks off the Ramblas in the narrow streets of the old town.
  • The Miro Foundation was a gift from the artist Joan Miro to his native city. The striking white building showcases Miro's contemporary art.
  • Magnificent mosaic tile work is characteristic of the Palau de la Música Catalana found on the Carrer de Sant Francesc de Paula in old Barcelona. This concert hall in modernist style was designed by Lluis Domènech i Montaner and built between 1905 and 1908.
  • The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya displays art from the Catalan region daring from the Middle Ages to the 1940s.
  • The Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona features art from the main movements of 20th century art mostly from Spain and the region of Catalunya.
  • Immerse yourself in Surrealism by taking a day trip to nearby Figueras, Salvador Dali's birthplace and home of the impressive Dali museum.

Every where you turn in this stylish city you'll see something of interest. Barcelona is certainly not to be missed by those who appreciate art, architecture and design.

By Susan Milne

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