Art From Abroad: European capitals provide powerful artistic experiences

Rome, Italy Rome is one of the most walk-accessible cities I’ve ever visited. If Florence is the center of Italy’s art, Rome is the foundation of its democracy and civilization.

The first thing I visited was the Colosseum—an amphitheater where gladiator, animal and naval battles were held for entertainment. Entrance costs about €12-, and this includes entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine. Nearby is the Trevi Fountain, which is under restoration right now—so it looked nothing like it did in The Lizzie McGuire Movie—but it is still very beautiful.

Lastly, the Pantheon—which has no entrance fee—is a must-see. Outside of it is an incredible Greek-influenced structure with Corinthian columns, and inside it’s even greater. You can look up and see the Oculus, which the Romans used as a main source of natural light. The Pantheon also serves as a tomb for beloved Italian Renaissance painter Raphael. I have to mention the Vatican, which I am still missing because a whole day is necessary to explore it as well as the Sistine Chapel. I recommend going on a Sunday when the Pope appears from a window at noon to greet everyone.


Madrid, Spain

Before I describe my experience at the Museo Nacional del Prado, I should discuss Atocha, the neighborhood in which the museum is located. It is a popular metro stop and area where you will find various cafes and popular tourist destinations including the Museo Reina and the Museo Nacional del Prado.

Atocha also has plenty of thieves. After my visit to the Museo Nacional del Prado, two girls performed a typical “map” trick, in which they act like tourists, speak a foreign language and put a map in front of you while stealing from you. Be careful—my phone was stolen because of an incident like this.

Aside from that, the Prado is home to some of the most beautiful artworks I’ve studied in textbooks, but never imagined I would see in front of me. I went straight to my two favorite Spanish works: Diego Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” and Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May 1808.” For “Las Meninas,” there is a little trick that if you hold a mirror facing you with the painting behind you, the perspective of the room changes. This is why you’ll see many visitors with their cameras in “selfie-mode,” which is the only exception to having your camera out. Try it, but FYI, this is one of the strictest museums I’ve ever been to regarding photos—security will be called.

Another one of my favorites from the museum is by Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.” It will take you a while to observe all the different trippy and weird “delights,” which are simply allusions to sin.