Museo Nacional del Prado
The building that today houses the Museo Nacional del Prado was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785. It was constructed to house the Natural History Cabinet, by orders of King Charles III. However, the building's final purpose - as the new Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures - was the decision of the monarch's grandson, King Ferdinand VII, encouraged by his wife Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza.The Royal Museum, soon quickly renamed the National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures and subsequently the Museo Nacional del Prado, opened to the public for the first time in November 1819. The Museum's first catalogue, published in 1819, included 311 paintings, although at that time its collection comprised just over 1,510 pictures from the various Reales Sitios (Royal Residences). The exceptionally important royal collection, which represents the foundation of the Museum's collection as we know it today, started to increase significantly in the 16th century during the time of Charles V and continued to thrive under the succeeding Habsburg and Bourbon Monarchs. It is down to them than nowadays we can contemplate in the Museum as greatest masterpieces as The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosh, The Nobleman with his hand on his Chest by El Greco, Death of the Virgin by Mantegna, The Holy Family known as The Pearl by Raphael, Emperor Carlos V on Horseback by Titian, The Foot Washing by Tintoretto, Self-portrait by Durër , Las Meninas by Velázquez, The Three Graces by Rubens, and The Family of Carlos IV by Goya.