top of page

The Prado Museum in Madrid during the Civil War

When you visit the Prado Museum in Madrid, you get the impression of a peaceful and uniquely relaxed place. Its name, "Prado", a meadow in Spanish, also helps to formulate this image. But what many do not know, is that the Prado Museum during the Civil War experienced a unique and unprecedented adventure.

The Spanish Civil War took place between 1936 and 1939. During that time, Madrid also became the front, experiencing battles between Republicans and nationalists. The bombs that fell across the city did not miss the center, and so the Prado Museum was exposed to danger.

Evacuation of works from the Prado Museum during the Civil War

As we expand on our tour of the Prado Museum, a decision was made to save the situation. In fact, the decision was made a little too late. A bomb dropped inside the museum caused extensive destruction, and many works were damaged and needed restoration.

However, after the incident, it was decided to launch an evacuation operation. No, not of people, but of works. Thus, all the works of the museum one after the other were transported in sandbags to other museums in Europe. There they were hosted until the end of the war, and the royal collection was returned to Madrid.

May 2 – the ironic damage and the end of the story

Quite ironically, the bomb that fell on the Prado Museum during the Civil War hit one of the museum's most important works. It is a work "Dos de Mayo", May 2nd, by the famous 19th century Spanish painter Goya.

The painting, which tells of the popular battles that took place in Madrid on May 2, 1808, is one of the most prominent symbols in Spain against foreign conquests. Fate wished, and the bomb completely smashed this piece.

Today you can still enjoy the work without noticing the tragedy it went through, after its successful reconstruction.

But, as we will see on a tour of the Prado Museum, sometimes the stories behind the works are not limited to the time of his creation. Or to the story they are telling. They have a life of their own, a story of their own, experiences that accumulate over the years.

Want to hear more about the Prado Museum during the Civil War? Want to get a closer look at Goya's 'May 2' and dozens of other works?

Sign up today for our tour of the Prado Museum, and we are sure you will come out a little different from how you entered it.


bottom of page