Postcard from Madrid: Gaze upon Galdiano’s treasures away from hordes of other tourists

Madrid is famed for enormous museums filled with incredible collections attracting swarms of visitors.

But there are numerous oft-overlooked others housing artistic treasures where tour guides and their zombie-like followers rarely intrude. In fact, you virtually have the places to yourself. Museo Fundacion Lazaro Galdiano is one of those amazing spots.

The career in banking of Jose Lazaro Galdiano (1862-1947) was sidetracked by his interest in publishing literary and art magazines and a love of collecting. Obsessively collecting. Traveling the world to add to his holdings.

He commissioned his home on Serrano, a broad boulevard in downtown Madrid, in 1903, the year of his marriage to an Argentinian, Paula Florido. He named his sumptuous palace Parque Florido in her honor.

At the time of his death, he bequeathed the more than 12,500 items in his collection to Spain. Paintings include works by Hieronymus Bosch, Lucas Cranach, John Constable and El Greco. And Goyas, with no one elbowing you to get closer. The two Goya “brujas” canvases exhibited surely must contain the most frightening wicked witches ever depicted.

There is a glittering “treasure room” filled with rich religious artifacts and the royalty-worthy jewels of his wife. There are cases upon cases of specialized passions – miniature portraits, ivory carvings and beautifully preserved textiles. And there are hundreds upon hundreds more items that could not fit in the glass display cases but can be viewed close up by pulling out drawer after drawer below at your own leisurely pace.

As though Galdiano left them as a private feast for your eyes alone. Hidden in plain sight right in the heart of a city of more than 3-million people.

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