You could visit Madrid for the Museo del Prado alone and not leave disappointed, as few galleries in the world have as rich a collection of masterpieces. Drawn from the former Spanish Royal Collection, the walls of the 18th-century Palacio de Villanueva are adorned with more than 3,000 paintings by the great Spanish and European masters.Â Goya and VelÃ¡zquez may be the dramatic focal points, however, Ribera, Titian, Tintoretto, El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Zurburan – one of my favorites – somehow manage to share the spotlight. I must confess a prior ignorance of JosÃ© de Ribera, the 17th-century Spanish painter who spent the majority of his professional life in Italy. Influenced by Caravaggio’s naturalism, he was one of the pillars on which Spanish painting was built. (who knew?) From landscapes and mythological scenes to portraits and religious paintings, Ribera was as precise and detailed as a draughtsman. His later works – like St. Sebastian below – are also stunning in their luminosity. And for me, a very fortuitous Madrid discovery.