Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is possibly one of the most famous paintings in the world. When you see it in photos online, it just seems sort of neat. But seeing it in person is something else entirely. For one, it is enormous. At 25 feet across, the Reina Sofia art museum quite rightly devotes an entire large room to celebrate the grandeur this one work.
For those who do not know, Picasso painted Guernica to commemorate the bombing of Guernica, a Basque town in northern Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, the Fascists (those are the bad guys) chose Guernica as a target for aerial bombing. The town was not an important strategic target; it was full of civilians and had few soldiers and defenses. The Fascists chose to bomb Guernica to practice murdering civilians.
Guernica and it’s citizens were devastated by the bombing, which leveled the entire town. More details about the event are easy to find. I especially recommend Xavier Irujo’s book, The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History. Pablo Picasso wanted to capture the destruction and the pain with his painting.
Now, I will not pretend to be an art expert or a Guernica expert, but let us explore this painting a little bit. On the right hand side there is a figure with his arms outstretched. Picasso was inspired Fransisco de Goya’s painting, The Third of May, 1808 (which is also very cool), who was himself inspired by the figure of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Towards the left hand side we can see a woman screaming in agony. Her newborn baby has been killed. In a way, the horror and brutality of the bombing of Guernica can never be truly captured, but Picasso’s painting probably comes the closest.
In Madrid there is the Sobrino de Botin, which is, and this is true, the oldest restaurant in the world. It is nearly 300 years old. Located close to Plaza Mayor, it was a famous destination of Ernest Hemingway. It is famous for the roast suckling pig which naturally I had to try, and anyone reading this should also if they have the opportunity. It just tastes like really good, very tender pork, probably the best I have ever had. Just being in the restaurant is a memorable experience. As a Hemingway attraction it is very popular, and you can tell just by looking around how old it is. Even the menus are so cool that several of us snuck them out so that we could keep them. I can now make many recommendations for where a traveler should go for a great time in Madrid. Sobrino de Botin is my top restaurant recommendation.