From paella to Picasso, bullfighting to Basque country, the history and culture of
may conjure easy associations. But, as the former seat of the vast Habsburg Empire, long the site of tumultuous political conditions and colonial histories, and home of literary greats Cervantes and Garcia Lorca, Spain is heir to a rich and complex past. Its visual art offerings are no exception; the extraordinary Upper Paleolithic cave paintings at Altamira in northern Spain are considered some of the oldest known artworks; and, take a spin around any one of Madrid’s trifecta of world-class arts institutions known as the “Golden Triangle of Art”—Reina Sofia (the home of Picasso’s Guernica
, no less), El Prado, and, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum—and you’ll find yourself eyeball-deep in Spain’s fascinating cultural history.