MAJOR EUROPEAN ART GALLERIES AND ART SITES
Robert Baldwin , 2008 [section on Italy is most developed]
The nine best general museums are National Gallery (London); Louvre (Paris); Kunsthistorisches
Museum (Vienna); Hermitage (Leningrad); Dahlem Museum (Berlin); Uffizi (Florence); Vatican
(Rome); Prado (Madrid); Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam).
Vienna Kunsthistorisches Mus. (15-18 c.); Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Kunst (Old Masters); Lichstenstein
Museum (Old Masters, esp. Rubens); Belvedere Schloss (19-20 c. Austrian); Leopold Museum (Schiele, Klimt, &
Best Flemish 15-6th century are Koninklijk Museum (Antwerp) and Musee Royal des Beaux Arts (Brussels)
thAntwerp Koninklijk Museum (16-17 c. Flemish); Antwerp Cathedral (Rubens); van den Bergh Museum (16).
Brussels Musée Royal des Beaux Arts (15-17 c. Flemish). Don’t miss Horta House, an Art Nouveau masterpiece.
Ghent San Bavo (Van Eyck’s Ghent altarpiece); Van Dyck, Crucifixion in S. Michael’s Church
Bruges Groningen Museum (small with some great works by Van Eyck and Hugo, 15 c. Dutch); Memling Mus.
Copenhagen Royal Mus. (15-19 c.); Glyptothek (classical, 19 c. French); Thorvaldsen Mus.
London National Gall.; British Mus.; Tate Gall. (19-20 c., Turner); Courtauld Institute Gall. (19 c. Fren.); Wallace Coll. (17-18 c. Fren.); Victoria & Albert Mus. (sculpt., decor. arts, Constable); Royal Coll. at Buckingham Palace (15-17 c.); Royal Academy of Arts (academic art)
Cambridge Fitzwilliam Mus. (ancient-19 c.)
Oxford Ashmolean Mus. (ancient-17 c.)
Liverpool Walker Art Center (14-19 c. Euro;19-20 c. English)
Smaller museums: Birmingham & Bristol
FRANCE thParis Louvre; Mus. d'Orsay (Impressionism; Post-Impressionism, 19 sculpture); Mus. Cluny (Lady and Unicorn tapestry cycle; medieval); Orangerie (2 rooms with 8 huge Water Lily murals by Monet); Mus. Marmottan (Monet); Petit Palais (19 c. French); Beau Bourg (20 c.); Mus. Rodin; Maillol Museum; Gustave Moreau Museum, Mus. des monuments francaises (replicas of medieval sculpture)
Colmar Musée Unterlinden (Grünewald's Isenheim altar); Schongauer Madonna of the Rose Garden (altar in St Martin’s chuerch)
French Chateaus and Villas: Fontainebleau; Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Chambord,
Smaller good museums: Aix, Avignon, Bourdeaux, Chantilly, Dijon, Lille, Montpelier, Rennes, St. Paul, Strasbourg
Gothic Cathedrals: Notre Dame de Paris, Amiens, Rheims, Chartres, Laon,
GERMANY (* = built since 1990)
Best Old Masters: Berlin; then Dresden, Munich. Germany has over 2,000 art museums which show 10,000 exhibitions
Berlin Dahlem Mus. (15-19 c."); New National Gallery (19-20 c. esp. German, good Romanticism); Schloss Charlottenburg (rococo, Friedrich); Bode Mus. (ancient-18 c.); National Gallery (20 c.); Pergamon Mus. (classical, near-eastern); Brücke Mus. (Ger. Expressionism)
Bremen Modersohn Becker Haus; Kunsthalle (modern)
Cologne Wallraf-Richartz Museum (European painting)
Dresden Gemäldegalerie (major general museum, 14-19 century)
Frankfurt Staedelsche Kunstinstitut (European painting); Museum für Kunsthandwerk (Richard Meier building)
Hamburg Kunsthalle (modern, good German Romantics)
Hombroich *Langen Foundation (modern and Asian art museum designed by Taddeo Ando – building alone is worth visiting)
Leipzig *Museum der bildenden Künste (15-19 c., good German Romantics)
Munich Alte Pinakothek (15-18; Ger. Ren.); Neue Pinakothek (19-20); Lenbachhaus und Stadtische Galerie ("Blue Rider" Expressionists); Haus der Kunst, (Expressionism); National Museum (medieval sculpture); Shack Galerie (Ger. Romantics)
Seebull Nolde Mus. (Seebull, 2 miles north of Niebull, car is necessary)
Smaller good museums: *Baden-Baden (Richard Meier building), Braunsweig (good Northern Baroque including Rembrandt’s
late Family Group), Darmstadt, *Dusseldorf, Essen, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Kassel (Northern Baroque) , Nuremberg, *Stuttgart th(19-20)
Athens National Mus. (ancient Greek); Acropolis Mus. (ancient Greek)
Delphi Delphi Mus. (ancient Greek)
ITALY (4 best painting collections: Uffizi, Villa Borghese, Museo Capodimonte, Brera) Note: Italian churches are usually open 9-noon and 3-6 PM. Basilica churches in Rome are generally open all day. If you are
staying in any city for more than 4 days, get a week pass (abbondamento settimanale) at any news stand, valid for all metro and buses. You save a lot and avoid lines to buy tickets. Don’t forget to stamp your pass the first time you use it. For longer stays, consider a month-long abbondamento.
Rome *Vatican Museums [Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; three rooms of Raphael frescos, museum of classical sculpture with
Laocoon, Apollo Belvedere, etc., museum of Early Christian art]; *Pantheon(also great at night for café dining / drinks); *St. Peters (with Michelangelo’s Pieta and dome, Bernini’s Longinus and Cathedra Petri; dome offers great view but show up by 8 AM to avoid long elevator lines); *Villa Borghese (16-17 century art, esp. Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian; advance reservations
required at 06-328-10); S. Ignazio(best Baroque ceiling painting by Pozzo, just E of Pantheon, use light machine); *S. Maria della Vittoria (on Via XX Septembre with Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa; use light machine); just two blocks W on Via XX
Septembre at the corner is Borromini’s S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and one block further west is Bernini’s S. Andrea al Quirinale (another jewel of Baroque architecture). Borromini’s other great church is S. Ivo alle Sapienza, S of Piazza Navona,
only open Sunday 9AM to noon. Other great works by Bernini: Ludovica Albertoni Dying (in S. Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere 4 blocks SE of S. Maria in Trastevere) and his two giant angels in S. Andrea del Fratte
*Colosseum; *S. Pietro in Vincoli (with Michelangelo’s Moses); *Campidoglio (Michelangelo’s town square with equestrian
Marcus Aurelius); Palazzo Barberini (with fine collection of 16-17 century painting and Cortona’s great ceiling fresco); Musei Capitolini (classical art); Palazzo Altemps-Museo Nationale (classical museum just N of Piazza Navona); Palazzo Massimo-Museo Nazionale (classical museum just N of train station); *Piazza Navona (pedestrian traffic only, Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers); Trevi Fountain (best very early in the morning, at twilight or night); three Caravaggio churches: S. Luigi dei Francesi (Matthew cycle, just E of Piazza Navona); S. Maria del Popolo (Conversion of Saul, Crucifixion of Peter); S. Agostino (Madonna del Loreto, just N of Piazza Navona); Villa Farnesina (Raphael’s fresco cycle on Cupid and Psyche and
more – open 9AM – 1 PM, 10 min S of St. Peters); Bramante’s Tempietto (beautiful round church – don’t miss Sebastiano’s
ust below Quirinal Dioscuri Flagellation in adjoining church of S. Pietro in Montorio) Reni’s Aurora in Palazzo Pallavicini (j
on Via XXIV Maggio, first door on left; open first day of each month 10-noon and 3-5)
Best Early Christian churches with mosaics: *S. Maria in Trastevere; S. Maria Maggiore (great though marred by later additions); *S. Prassede (2 min South of S. Maria Maggiore).
iFor annotations on these sites in Rome, see the following footnote.
Villas/Gardens Near Rome *Villa d'Este (gardens, in Tivoli. Best Italian Renaissance garden with hundreds of fountains and ndstatues and great frescoes inside. Take Metro line B to Ponte Mammolo (2 to last stop in direction Rebibbia). Buy Cotral bus ticket for Tivoli in basement of Ponte Mammolo station. Bus trip takes ca. 30 minutes to reach Tivoli high on a hill. Go in the mid afternoon on a sunny weekday (Tu-Fri) for late afternoon light. Villa closes one hour before sunset. Then walk 20 min to
Temple of the Sibyls and eat outside at Ristorante Sibilla under the ruins (closed Monday; ph. 0774-335281).
Other villas/gardens; *Villa Lante (smaller Renaissance garden with nice frescoes, in Bagnaia.Take train from Rome to Viterbo
and cab to Bagnaia. *Palazzo Farnese (gardens, frescoes, etc., in Caprarola); *Sacro Bosco (gardens, in Bomarzo now known as
Parco dei Mostri or Monster Park). A car is needed to reach Bomarzo. Lesser villas/gardens: Villa Aldobrandini (garden theater, in Frascati 13 mi. SE of Rome); Palazzo Odescalchi (good frescoes, in Bassano Romano).
Florence Uffizi Museum (best Renaissance; call ahead to make reservations & avoid 3 hour line: (011-39-055- 29 48 83); Accademia (Michelangelo’s David & slaves); San Lorenzo (Michelangelo's Medici Chapel); San. Marco (Fra Angelico frescos; go by 9 AM for monastic solitude & silence); Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel in cloister on right of S. Croce (closes at c. 3:30);
Bargello (best Renaissance sculpture museum); Sta. Maria del Carmine (Massaccio's Brancacci Chapel); Museo del Opera del ndDuomo (2 best sculpture museum with Michelangelo’s Pieta, Donatello’s Magdalen and Jeremiah, Della Robbia singing boys; Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise); The campanile (bell tower next to the Duomo) has great views as does the Duomo – expect long lines for the latter.
Other good sites: Boboli Gardens (behind Pitti Palace) with Buontalenti’s Grotto which opens for 15 minutes in the afternoon;
Pontormo’s Deposition & Annunciation are in S. Felicita (open 9-12, 3:30-6) just across the Ponte Vecchio on route to Boboli
Garden – a must see. Masaccio’s Holy Trinity in S. Maria Novella; Baptistery has nice medieval mosaics inside; Palazzo thVecchio (with Bronzino’s Chapel and lots of 15-16 century frescoes glorifying the Medici); S. Miniato al Monte (Romanesque church in the suburbs); Ghirlandaio’s Sassetti Chapel frescoes in S. Trinita; Bronzino’s Martyrdom of St. Laurence in S. Lorenzo; Galleria Palatina in Pitti Palace (15-17 c. Ital. – a few great Renaissance and Baroque paintings..
Gardens Near Florence Villa Gamberaia (Baroque garden); George Washington University has a villa near in Fiesole with a
great garden; Vignamaggio (a villa with Renaissance garden with expensive apartments for rent, an hour south of Florence),
Villa Medici in Pratolino with Giambologna’s Appenino (Florence city bus 25A from Stazione S. Maria Novella has a stop 5
min from entrance to Villa)
Those planning to tour hilltop towns in Tuscany and Umbria should pick a home base not too far from the autostrada to save time on daytrips. Otherwise, you will spend 4 hours a day driving on slow, windy roads to reach the autostrada.
Great Pensione just outside Florence (Fiesole) Pensione Bencista is a Renaissance villa with reasonable prices, huge meals,
fantastic views of Florence from flower-covered terraces, set in a quiet, unspoiled countryside just 15 minutes from the city
www.bencista.com / Tel/Fax +39 055 59163. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you find Florence center by bus no 7.
oppressively noisy, dirty, crowded, and expensive, try the pastoral paradise of Pensione Bencista.
Venice *Accademia (Venetian painting); *Scuola di San Rocco (75 works by Tintoretto); *Doges Palace (16-17 century, get guide if possible; *San Marco (interior lights on from 11AM-1 PM) *S. Maria dei Miracoli (early Renaissance jewel without crowds – my favorite thing in Venice); *S. Giorgio Maggiore by Palladio with paintings by Tintoretto, tall campanile (best view, esp. late afternoon); *S. Maria della Salute (Longhena); *Chiesa del Frari, (altarpieces by Titian and Bellini); S. Zaccaria (altarpiece by Bellini); Palazzo Albrizzi (good frescoes); Palazzo thLabia (Veronese frescoes, hard to get into); Ca Rezzonico (frescoes by Tiepolo & 18 century art); Scuola di San Giorgio della Schiavoni (Carpaccio paintings). Lido (rent bikes and drive to the end of the mile-long jetty at the
northern end of the island); Burano (quiet island with brightly colorful houses, good for day-trip and outdoor meal);
Murano (glass-blowing, esp. for kids, go on a weekday when the furnaces are running)
Villas Near Venice: *Villa Barbaro (Palladio, Veronese frescoes, near Asolo); Villa Rotunda (Palladio, outside Vicenza – also see Palladio’s best work, in Vicenza – Teatro Olimpico); Villa Caldogno (in Caldogno near Vicenza; great frescoes) Villa Foscari "La Malcontenta" (Palladio, in Mira just W of Venice); Villa Emo in Fanzolo (NW of Venice)(good frescoes); Teatro Olympico; Villa La Rocca Pisana (Scamozzi, in Lonigo); Villa dei Vescovi ( W of Padua, great for natural setting more
than architecture), Villa Pisani (in Stra, W. of Venice on the Brenta River, frescoes by Tiepolo; labyrinth opens April
Ravenna: best Byzantine art in Italy except Monreale (Sicily): 1) S. Vitale, 2) Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, 3)
Orthodox Baptistery, 4) S. Apollinare in Classe (outside town), 5) S. Apollinare Nuovo.
rdVerona Arena (3 largest Roman arena and best preserved); Gardino Giust (great Renaissance garden)
Lago Maggiore Isola Bella (“Beautiful Island”), villa with terraced gardens on Lake Maggiore
Mantua Ducal Palace (Mantengna's Camera degli Sposi); Palazzo del Te (Giulio Romano's Mannerist frescoes); S. Andrea
(Alberti); Palazzo d’Arco (Falconetto astrological frescoes)
Milan Brera Mus. (15-20 c. Ital.); Ambrosiana (15-18 Ital.); Poldi-Pezzoli (small Ital. Ren. coll.)
Naples Museo Capodimonte; Museo Archeologica (great classical sculpture and frescoes)
Padua Scrovegni Chapel (one of Giotto's two great fresco cycles; buy tickets months in advance; wretched current system
allows only 15 minute visits; try back to back tickets for 30 minutes); Baptistery (next to Duomo, with great fresco cycle by ththGiusto da Menabuoi, late 14 century); Odeo Cornaro/ (villa with early 16 c. fresco decorations, behind the Santo, permission
needed from Commune de Padova, almost impossible to get)
Siena Palazzo Pubblico (Lorenzetti’s frescoes of Good and Bad Government; Martini’s Maesta); Pinacoteca (art museum); Piccolomini Library with Pinturicchio’s frescoes of Life of Pius II in Duomo
Arezzo *S. Francesco (Piero’s fresco cycle on the History of the Cross; advanced tickets required; visits restricted to 30 min.)
thAssisi *S. Francesco (Giotto’s two best fresco cycles are in Assisi and Padua; church has many more14 century frescoes)
Orvieto (great hilltop town; Signorelli’s fresco cycle on the Apocalypse, 1499-1503)
Parma: National Gallery; Duomo (Correggio’s ceiling fresco, Assumption of the Virgin); Baptistery (superb Romanesque work with frescoes and sculptures)
Bologna Giambologna’s Neptune Fountain in main square; Nicolo del Arca’s Lamentation in S. Maria della Vita / Pinacoteca (main museum, esp. Baroque art); Collezioni Communali (less important);
Turin Guarini, Chapel of the Holy Shroud, S. Sindone (most exciting Italian Baroque church with visionary dome)
Lovely Hilltop Towns (try weekday visits): Cortona (with a great Fra Angelico and some nice Signorelli in the art museum),
(very crowded), Montepulciano (with lovely Renaissance church just outside city walls and a nice San Gemignano
piazza on top), Pienza
Monreale (Sicily) has great Byzantine mosaics
Best museums: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Mauritshuis, Boymans. 16th-century stained glass in the St. Johns (Jans)
Church in Gouda is interesting if you get a good guide. Old, unspoiled towns: Gouda, Haarlem, Utrecht.
Amsterdam Rijksmuseum (old Dutch Masters); Van Gogh Mus.; Stedelijk Musem (19-20 c.)
The Hague Mauritshuis (17 c.); Gemeentes Mus. (250 Mondrians)
Otterlo Kroller-Muller Mus. (19-20 c., Van Gogh, modern sculpture)
Rotterdam Boymans van Beuningen Mus. (15-20 c. Dutch)
Smaller good museums: Eindhoven, Haarlem, Leyden, and Utrecht
Oslo Munch Mus.; National Gallery (19 c. Scandanavian, more Munchs)
Lisbon National Gallery of Portugal (15-20 c.); Gulbenkian Mus.
Leningrad Hermitage Mus. (ancient-20 c.)
Moscow Pushkin Mus. (ancient-20 c.)
Edinburgh National Gall. of Scotland (15-19 c.)
Madrid Prado Museum (15-19 European; best for Spanish art); Academia de San Fernando (Goya); San Antonio de la Florida th(Goya); Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (European, 15-20 Century);
Bilbao Guggenheim Mus. (modern)
Stockholm National Mus. (14-19 c.) Modern Mus.; Thielska Galleriet, (19th c. Scandanavian)
Basel Kunstmuseum (Northern Ren. modern Swiss)
Berne Kunstmuseum (20 c., esp. cubism & Klee)
Geneva Musée d'Art (Swiss art, great Hodlers)
Zurich Kunsthaus (18-19 c. Swiss, 20 c.
Smaller good museums: Winterthur, Lucerne, Solothurn
ART SITES IN ROME
Vatican Museums Includes Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; three rooms of Raphael frescos, two museums of classical sculpture
with Laocoon, Apollo Belvedere, etc., and museum of Early Christian art. Go at noon on a weekday to avoid early
Campidoglio, Michelangelo’s town square with equestrian Marcus Aurelius, the sole surviving equestrian bronze portrait from
Roman antiquity, crowning a cosmic solar pavement. Commissioned by Pope Paul III, this first public square in
Renaissance Rome expressed Renaissance papal ideals of a new Christian Rome and a single, hierarchical universe
united around one god, one pope, one ruler. Bernini’s Piazza St. Peters created a Baroque version of Michelangelo’s
Campidoglio, working on a much larger scale with a much stronger Catholic imagery of cosmic time and space.
Roman Forum?directly behind the Campidoglio, to the left of the central building, is a great view of the Forum. Walk down and
through it, emerging at the other end to see the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine. The Colosseum is spectacular
inside but be prepared for a long line unless you go early on a weekday.
St. Peters and Piazza S. Pietro. Bernini’s oval piazza trumps Michelangelo’s Campidoglio as a much more grandiose, Baroque
Roman Catholic space symbolizing a single Catholic globe unified by the mother church – St. Peters - under the rule of
a divinely-ordained papacy. In papal culture, St. Peter was supposedly the first pope, with all papal power passing on to
the successive bishops of Rome (i.e. popes). All Catholic celebrations of Peter confirm papal power. Bernini’s Piazza
has an Egyptian obelisk brought by the ancient Romans to Rome, thereby establishing a papal “world history” of great thepochs and empires from Egypt to ancient Rome to Christian Rome in St. Peter’s day to the 17-century Rome of
Bernini and his patrons. St. Peters offers a great view from the dome but only if you get there by 9 AM to avoid a long
line for elevator.Otherwie skip the dome and enjoy Michelangelo’s Pieta (first chapel on right) and the many sculptures
by Bernini, especially the Conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (on the right at the end of the long vestibule,
now blocked off by gates) and St. Longinus under the dome, converted by faith, as an example to all Catholics whose
piety is tied to visible images, sacraments, and miracles (in contrast to Protestant piety tied to the Bible and the Word,
not to material forms.)
Pantheon, ancient Roman temple to all the gods, in the shape of a perfect sphere, crowned by a dome of heaven with a celestial
oculus through which the sunlight moves like a cosmic sundial. Often used by Roman emperors for political functions,
the Pantheon expresses the Roman imperial idea of universal harmony in religious and political terms. The most
influential building in Western architecture and the model for Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople), St. Peters, the
Pantheon in Paris, the U.S. Capitol, etc. Go on a sunny day or at night with moonlight.
S. Ignazio. Best illusionistic Baroque ceiling painting, by Pozzo, depicting the Triumph of St. Ignatius and the Jesuits over the
Four Continents , i.e. over the whole world, at a time when absolutism in Roman Catholic piety fused with that of the
secular nation-state. Use light machine inside church to illuminate fresco properly. 5 minute walk from the Pantheon.
S. Maria della Vittoria. Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa; use light machine to illuminate sculpture. One of the greatest works of
all sculpture, usually free from tourists. Go on a weekday.
Villa Borghese. Great museum of Renaissance and Baroque art, especially Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, and Correggio.
Advance tickets required by phone. Off-season, this can usually be done one or two days before.
Piazza Navona (pedestrian traffic only, great hangout with Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers symbolizing Roman Catholic
Trevi Fountain (best very early in the morning, at twilight, or at night)