A beautiful 18th century mansion on Calle de San Mateo, north of hip and trendy Chueca neighborhood, is not that easy to miss. However, only few know that these roseate walls treasure an immense collection of art – celebrating arguably the most charming time period, the 19th century Romantic era.
The collection started as a hobby for Marqués de la Vega-Inclán, philanthropist and keen traveler, who had previously founded Museo de El Greco in Toledo and Casa de Cervantes in Valladolid. In 1921, he contributed some of his objects of art to the Spanish Government so that they would be publicly displayed.
The palace on Calle de San Mateo, once a home to another public figure, Marqués de Matallana, was chosen to accommodate Vega-Inclán’s collection and the institution received the name of Museo Romántico after its inauguration in 1924. The museum shut down for major renovations in 2001, to be opened only eight years later as Museo Nacional del Romanticismo.
Its principal aim – to celebrate the beauty of the Romantic period – has not changed at all. The collection flaunts excellent examples of porcelain, ceramics, furniture, and paintings – all to provide a clear illustration of a noble life in the 19th century. Jewels in the collection include Goya’s San Gregorio Magno and Madrazo’s Retrato de Isabel II. However, portraits and landscapes by lesser known artists are worth admiring as well.
Reviving the romantic atmosphere of the museum is Café del Jardin, offering a nice selection of light snacks, mouthwatering pastries, and great assortment of tea and coffee.