This imposing tree-lined avenue, adorned with fountains and sculptures, is home to no fewer than three world-class art galleries: the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. In the 18th century, the “prado” was a meadow crossed by a stream, but the rustic surroundings were deceptive, as the area had acquired an unsavoury reputation for muggings and amorous encounters. The solution, devised by Carlos IV, was a stately new boulevard between Plaza de Cibeles and Plaza de Atocha, lined with buildings devoted to the pursuit ...

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