Postcard from Madrid, Spain: Trying to absorb the history of man in a day

In 1867, Queen Isabella II (1830-1904) founded the Museo Arqueologico Nacional (MAN), partially in recognition of the need to protect Spain’s historical artifacts from political turmoil. The preservation of the cultural heritage of the country proved easier than the protection of her own rule. A revolt pushed the queen into exile in France the following year, and she wound up abdicating the throne in favor of one of her sons.

MAN traces the history of man in Spain from his earliest known origins and also includes extensive displays of ancient archaeological treasures from Egypt, the Near East and Greece.

The featured image is known as the Lady of Elche, dating from the 5th or 4th century B.C. The “lady” was found in Elche, located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and continually impacted by waves of invaders from Greece, Carthage, Rome and the land of the Moors.

The main structure housing MAN dates from the 19th century, but the museum was closed for five years beginning in 2008 to dramatically modernize the space displaying more than 15,000 items.

Yes, it is totally overwhelming. Not realizing the immensity of the collection, we squandered time in the prehistoric section of relatively little interest to us and felt rushed in viewing the rest, all of it masterfully displayed.

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