Hostal Nieto; Centro Madrid

Alojamiento Económico y Céntrico

Sightseeing in the AREA

Situated in the heart of the historic centre of Madrid, in the Art Triangle, made up by the main city's museums (El Prado, Reina Sofia Museum and Thyssen-Bornemitza Contemporary Art Museum), this new hotel is set in the well-known Barrio de las Letras quarter, a stone's throw from the Plaza Santa Ana square, the Ateneo, Las Cortes and Puerta del Sol square. A ten minutes walk will lead you to the Plaza de Opera, as well as the marvellous Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Palace.

Madrid's list of great museums starts with the Prado, Paseo del Prado, (34) 91-330-2800 or museo, home to an unrivaled collection of works by Velázquez and Goya, as well as thousands of European paintings and sculptures. Highlights include ''Las Meninas'' and other royal portraits by Velázquez, Goya's compelling and distressing Black Paintings, and Bosch's ''Garden of Earthly Delights.'' Open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; admission $2.80. On Sunday admission is free, and hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Mondays.

The state's contemporary collection, including Picasso's ''Guernica,'' which Madrid guards jealously despite Basque claims that it should be displayed in or near the Basque town of Guernica, is housed in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Calle Santa Isabel 52, (34) 91-467-5062, museoreinasofia The museum, a converted hospital, exhibits 20th- and 21stcentury works, mostly Spanish. The show ''Picasso: The Great Themes'' groups works on different subjects that interested the artist, including bullfighting and sex, and runs from Wednesday through June 18. Open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday till 3; $2.80.

The museum also runs two galleries in the Retiro Park, visited by thousands of Madrileños every sunny weekend.

More eclectic is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Paseo del Prado 8; (34) 91-369-0151, museothyssen .org, established in 1992 to house a rich collection of Old Masters, Impressionists and modern art. Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; $6.

For decorative arts, visit the Royal Palace, Palacio Real, Plaza de Oriente, (34) 91-547-5350, now used only for state occasions; patrimonio on the Web. Guided tours, offered in several languages, cost $6.50 and conclude with a display of the china and glass still used for royal banquets. You can recover with a stroll in the extensive palace gardens, or a cup of coffee in the tranquil Plaza de Oriente. Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you prefer a smaller, more personal museum, apply for a tour of the Palacio de Liria, home of the 18th Duchess of Alba (whose saucy ancestor was painted by Goya in the two ''Majas'' hanging in the Prado). The duchess owns a fabulous art collection, with works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya, Titian, Velázquez and Bruegel, along with porcelain, manuscripts and silver. Free tours take place Friday morning and space is limited; apply well in advance to: Alicia Manso, Palacio de Liria, Princesa 20, 28008 Madrid; (34) 91-547-5302, fax (34) 91-541-0377. Tours are in Spanish, although Ms. Manso will try to accommodate English-speaking visitors.

Tour One: The Golden Triangle


 Pasillo del Hostal Nieto; alojamiento en centro Madrid
Estamos en la calle León, en el mismo centro de Madrid.

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