Just down the way from Madrid’s most famous museums (El Prado, The Thyssen-Bornamisza Museum, and The Reina Sofia Museum) is the less-visited National Archeology Museum. This museum not only gives a thorough and extremely interesting history of Spain, but is home to some very important artifacts from around the Iberian Peninsula.
You can find jewelry, textiles, sculpture, coins, amphorae/ceramics from Prehistoric times to present. This museum has a bit of everything, is displayed beautifully, has explanations in both English and Spanish, and will leave you feeling inspired.
One thing I love about the history of Spain is how layered it is. Being a Mediterranean country, you’ll find influences from Africa, from the north of Europe, from the Celts, the Romans, the Phoenicians, the Visigoths, and there are even artifacts from the Native Ibero population who used to inhabit what we now know as Spain.
It’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that Spain had an indigenous population that was later conquered by the Phoenicians, Celts, and eventually the Romans. Looking at their art and sculpture, they were an incredibly advanced culture. The indigenous peoples of Spain were called Iberos and gave the peninsula its name, Iberia.
One of my favorite sculptures from the Iberian people is the Dama del Elche, or the Lady of Elche because she is wearing enormous statement ear coverings. There is no real clue as to what these ear coverings would’ve been made of, but I love a culture that wears giant statement jewelry. She is also decked in layered necklaces of beads and gemstones.
Another one of my favorite things to see in this museum are the crowns of the Visigothic monarchs. This is a set of crowns made of gold and amethyst gemstones that has filigree lettering hanging from the crest. I could look at these crowns all day long. I love the details, I love the color combination of the gold and the purples, I love how handmade it looks, and it’s just luxurious. Every time I come to see it, I study these crowns to try to absorb not just inspiration but to appreciate the craftsmanship.
This museum is full of many other artifacts. It’s just 3 euros to enter, has a nice gift shop, lots of seating, and is one that I make sure to visit every time I’m in Madrid.
Have you been to Madrid? Are there any museums there that you enjoyed visiting>? Comment below, I'd love to learn more about the city.