AddressCalle Gran Vía, 25, 28013 Madrid, Spain
As you walk down the west side of Paseo del Prado in Madrid, a jaw-dropping 78-foot-tall vertical garden just might stop you in your tracks.
Stop and appreciate it for a moment, of course, but just left of it, you'll find the entrance to one of the Spanish capital's most unique and fascinating museums. CaixaForum Madrid is relatively new compared to its counterparts (one of which, the Prado, celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2019). But in the comparatively short amount of time, it's been open, it's become a force to be reckoned with on Madrid's thriving cultural scene.
A Bit of History
Despite its modern touches, the building that houses CaixaForum today dates back to the early 20th century. It originally played host to the Mediodía Electric Company, and construction began in 1900.
Decades later, Catalan banking giant La Caixa acquired the property and set out to convert it into a cultural and educational space. Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron took charge of the renovation process, which took place from 2001 until 2007.
In addition to the vertical garden that now dominates the plaza, one fundamental change to the existing Mediodía building is the fact that it now appears to "levitate" several meters off the ground. It is one of the only remaining examples of industrial-era architecture remaining in central Madrid.
On Feb. 13, 2008, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain inaugurated CaixaForum Madrid, alongside La Caixa President Isidro Fainé.
Visiting CaixaForum Madrid Today
Just down the street from the Atocha train station and across the road from the Prado, CaixaForum Madrid fits easily into any itinerary. If you're not within walking distance, you can get there via metro line 1 (get off at the Estación del Arte station). It's also easily accessible via several city bus lines.
The space is open Monday through Sunday and on most holidays throughout the year (except Jan. 1, Jan. 6, and Dec. 25). Regular hours are from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. The museum occasionally operates on a modified schedule, generally only on the days before major public holidays.
Tickets to CaixaForum cost 6 euros and can be purchased online in advance as well as on-site. The entrance is free for qualifying visitors, such as La Caixa Bank clients and holders of the European Youth Card. Additionally, complimentary access is granted to all visitors on May 15, May 18, and Nov. 9.
What to See & Do at CaixaForum Madrid
All exhibitions at CaixaForum Madrid are temporary, changing every few months. This keeps things interesting—it's quite possibly the only Madrid museum where you could come back again and again and see something different each time.
In addition to the exhibitions (which can be visited individually or with a guided tour), CaixaForum Madrid hosts events such as workshops, panel discussions, concerts, and more. There are even special activities and tours available for children if you're traveling with kids in tow.
When you're done checking out the main events and exhibitions, the onsite restaurant is worth a visit even if you're not hungry—its dreamy, ethereal design feels like something from another world. And for a unique, educational souvenir, the gift shop is one of the most fascinating of its kind in Madrid.
What Else to Do Near CaixaForum Madrid
Located right at the heart of the Spanish capital's famed Golden Triangle of Art, CaixaForum Madrid makes a great starting point from which to continue your museum adventure. The Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen museums are each less than a 10-minute walk away.
If you've already gotten your fill of museums, CaixaForum Madrid is also a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the city's Literary Quarter. Also known as Huertas, this picturesque barrio's claim to fame is as the former home of some of Spain's most iconic literary legends. After all, even if you've never read "Don Quijote," not everyone can say they've seen the home where author Miguel de Cervantes once lived.
Last but not least, if you're ready for some fresh air, you're in luck. The entrance to the iconic Retiro Park is just a stone's throw away from CaixaForum Madrid. Head to the city's most famous and popular green space for a relaxing stroll, a journey around the lake in a rented boat, or just an hour or two spent under a shady tree with a good book.