Madrid has a great many surprising little museums tucked away all over the city. The Museo Cerralbo, once the home of the Marquis de Cerralbo, is less than 5 minutes walk from the very central Plaza de España, but nevertheless it feels like a well-kept secret.
Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, who died in 1922, must have been a total magpie, because this mini-palace is stuffed full of his many collections, which are artfully displayed around the house in cabinets and on every available wall and surface. I never really understand what motivates people to collect – having time and money must help though, and I guess the Marquis had plenty of both.
The many swords and knives are a favourite of mine. Why stop at having a pair of sabres on the wall if you can have several hundred, all arranged in a gigantic shiny pointy pile? I found myself coveting the bath tub too – made of solid marble, you could almost swim lengths in it!
Everything is richly decorated with paintings, wall hangings, murals or giant mirrors. There are red, pink and blue rooms, a library, ballroom, study and an Oriental room, complete with opium pipes. It’s absolutely over-the-top and completely fascinating. What’s more, the first time I visited, I had a long conversation with one of the very knowledgeable attendants, who told me some truly scandalous gossip about the old Marquis… maybe you’ll be as lucky as me!
Free entrance on Thursdays 17:00 – 20:00, Saturday from 14:00 and all day Sunday.