Spanish version

Cerralbo Museum

The Building

The Cerralbo Museum is located at Ventura Rodríguez, 17 in the area of Argüelles.

Cerralbo Museum - stairs

This was a neighbourhood where aristocrats and the bourgeoisie lived. The building belonged to the marquis of Cerralbo in the XIXth century. In fact the building was finished in 1893.

It is a four story house: basement, mezzanine, main floor and attic. It also has a garden.

The palace was not intended to be a museum. But in 1922 the marquis left his estate to become the Cerralbo Museum. In any case, during his lifetime, the press and intellectual circles refered to the big halls of the building as “museum”. The marquise liked to show his belongings to his vistors, always arranged in a certain way which he thought made them more striking.

The private rooms were on the mezzanine, on the basement and the attic were the kitchen, pantry, carriage porch and rooms for the service. The main floor was dedicated to the visitors, presenting all those things collected by the marquis during his life.

After four years of restoration works, the museum was reopened at the end of 2010.

Thanks to many documents related to the contents of the marquis´ collection it has been possible to recreate the original atmosphere the palace.

Cerralbo Museum - coat of arms

The marquis of Cerralbo donated his patrimony to the Spanish nation on condition that a foundation had to be created which should make sure that his collection was kept together. It should also promote cultural and educational activities. Thanks to the first director of the museum, Juan Cabre Aguilo, who made a detailed inventory it has been possible to arrange the different items as they were at the times of the marquise. The current director of the museum, Lourdes Vaquero Argüelles, has made a great effort to maintain the original atmosphere of the palace.



This was the first impression the visitors had when coming to the palace. It could be accessed by carriage. Two flights take you to the first floor or mezzanine where the private rooms were. They were reserved for the family or close friends

The main or noble floor was for more official or social occasions. It clearly reflects the XIXth century mentality, where all space has to be filled out and the main target is to impress the visitor.

Here the main idea is to express grandeur and sumptuousness: marble and walnut wood are used on the stairs and marbled stuccowork on the walls.

On both sides of the entrance we can see two paintings related to the past of the Cerralbo Museum - Red RoomCerralbo household. On the left we see the first count of Alcudia defeating the Dutch army in 1635. On the right the second marquis of Cerralbo is defending La Coruña from the British pirate Drake in 1592.

On the upper part of the stairs is the coat of arms of the marquis and his wife. On both sides tapestries from the XVIIth century made in Pastrana and Bruselles.


Summer Wing

This area of the palace has several rooms which are located around the garden and therefore are more comfortable in summer. The floor is made of marble.

Red Room

Here the marquis used to see his clients and suppliers, i.e. people that should not enter the private rooms nor those for social events. We can see a painting by Eugenio Lucas, follower of Goya and some photographies of the Cerralbo family. We have to bear in mind that the marquis had an important collection of photographies, part of which we can see in the different rooms. Cerralbo Museum - Yellow Room

He was very interested in technological innovations. There is an interior telephone (aprox. 1900).


Yellow Room or Summer Dining and Sitting Room

We can see two paintings by Vicente Lopez, one of the 16th marquis of Cerralbo, Jose de Aguilera y Contreras. Some believe this painting was made by the Bernardo, the painter´s son.

On one of the photographies the marchioness wearing the typical dress of Salamanca.

Lamp made of Bohemian cristal.

Pink Room

This room follows the style of the ladies´cabinets. The furniture belonged to the marchioness of Villahuerta, the marquis´ stepdaughter. She died five years after him. On the desk we can see the initials of her name.


It belonged to the marquise of Cerralbo. It is quite austere with little decorations. There is Cerralbo Museum - Bedroomone of the first alarm clocks of that time.

The marquis died while sitting on the armchair we can see in front of the bed.


In the corridor we can see several items related to the political views of the marquis who supported the Carlism movement. There are several photographies of the throne pretender, collages…. These items were not in this area as they belonged to the private collection of the marquis.


Winter Wing

Confidence Room

Cerralbo Museum - Confidence RoomThis would be the room were the proprietor received his guests every day. It has some important pieces of Meissen china. In the center are four vases named of the “four elements”, although only two of these are represented (water and air). It seems that these vases do not form a collections.

A lamp made of Murano glass is hanging from the ceiling. It received the prize at the First General Exhibition held in Turin in 1884.

On one of the walls is a portrait of the marquis´ sister, Matilde de Aguilera y Gamboa, painted by Federico Madrazo.

Dining Room

This is a beautiful little dining room. In these rooms there used to be still lives.

In the center a bronze lamp.

The silver pieces were made by the famous silversmith Antonio Martínez . In one of the glass gabinets we can see some curious menus made of china.

Main Floor

This floor was entirely dedicated to receive the guests and, therefore, to show the family´s wealth.


It is the first great room the visitor sees. It has about 400 armory pieces. It wants to Cerralbo Museum - Armoryremind you of the marquis´ glorious lineage. There is a horse armory and the helmet which belonged to the first duque of Savoy which he wore at the battle of Saint Quintin. This was one of the marquis´ favourite pieces. In fact, there is a portrait of the marquis in which we can see this very helmet among other of his most valued possessions.

All pieces are exactly as the marquis used to have them. There are many documents that clearly state where which objetct was, so that they can be placed exactly where they used to be.


As the bathroom is located on the floor dedicated to visitors, it is quite clear that it was not used very frequently. This was one of the most innovative areas in Madrid as they had running water (even hot water) and electric light.

Arabian Room

Tipical room of the XIXth century showing its exotic and oriental trend. The first of this kindCerralbo Museum - samurai of rooms can be seen at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez (1875) which would influence all those made afterwards.Here are two samurai armories, musical instruments from the Philippines, Africa and Oceania. Most of these objects were bought by the marquis at auctions.

This room was especially ment for gentlemen. They used to sit here after dinner, smoking and chatting. In fact there are also some items used to smoke opium, although nothing states that the marquis did so.


Little Columns Room

It is called like this because of the columns that decorate the table in the center of the room. It is a room in baroque style, also dedicated to gentlemen meetings.

The columns have Greek, Roman and Egyptian figures on the top. Although they were all bought by the marquis, they show his interest in archaeology.

On the walls paintings with religious themes.

Next to this rooms there is a corridor which shows part of the collection of drawings. They are all copies, as the originals have to be kept away because of their fragility.

Cerralbo Museum - WardrobeWardrobe

Another room dedicated to gentlemen. It imitates those rooms where the kings used to get dressed while being ccompanied by noblemen. Note the washingbasin and the cubboard. In the center we can see an assembly of swords following instructions of the marquis.

Empire Room

This room is for women. It is a cabinet with mirrors like those in the French palaces. Lamp of green copper ore from the Urals. There are also several pieces of Wedgewood china. On the doors allegories of the four seasons.

Gala Dining Room

This room was prepared for 24 guests. First the French protocol was in use, putting all dishes in the center. Afterwards they followed the Rusian protocol, serving dishes from right to left.

On the ceiling allegory of chocolate and coffee.

There is a painting by Snyders, a collaborator of Rubens. He used to paint the animals in his paintings.

Cerralbo Museum - Dining RoomThe dining table is made with pieces of the parquet of the Medinaceli palace

Billard Room

Tipical meeting room where the guest gathered after dinner. The billard table is form the middle of the XIXth century. It is a French billard table.

On the walls portraits by different European art schools from the XVIth to the XVIIIth century. Among them a portrait of a member of the Doria family by Tintoretto.

There is a water deposit made of albaster that always had fresh water.

Chamfered Room

This room is just at the corner of Ventura Rodriguez Street and Ferraz Street. Here are alsoCerralbo Museum - Gallery paintings glued to the ceiling. It is an allegory of music and fine arts. On the walls paintings dedicated to several regional customs, like the dance of the Valencian jota or the time after the siesta.

One of the four glued paintings shows the palace of Santa Maria de la Huerta, summer residence of the Cerralbo family.

In one of the horse carriages is Amelia, the marquis´ stepdaughter.



The gallery surrounds the ball room, it is divided into three sections and is dedicated to the most important items in the marquise´s collection. It was a space where guests could walk around admiring the different pieces.

It is worth mentioning the important lamps distributed along the gallery

First or Ancestors Gallery

We can see a portrait of the marchise of Cerralbo with a typical mantilla and a prayerbook in her hands. It was painted by Ricardo Balaca . Cerralbo Museum - Diana

The portrait of the marquis, which we mentioned before, was painted by Jose Soriano Fort . This painter and Mariano Juderias Caballero were protegées of the marquis and both also decorated the interior of the palace. The portrait shows the marquis with the uniform of royal senator.


Second or Florentine Gallery

This gallery got its name from the furniture that imitates that of the XVIIth century although it was made in the XIXth century. Worth mentioning is a sculpture of Diana, goddess of hunt, a “Pietà” painted by Alonso Cano and the “Immaculate Conception” by Zurbaran.

This gallery gives way to two rooms.


Here the marquis saw his most distinguished guests. There is a big chimney with the coat of arms and some of the propietors most precious belongings.


Cerralbo Museum - Ball Room

It is a two storey library and has important history and archeology works. In the display stand coins and stamps.

Third Gallery

Here we find an important collection of furniture and also a painting by El Greco, “Saint Francis in Extasy”.

Ball Room

This is the most important room of the whole palace. It is a great room with a circular sofa in the middle which was taken away when there was dancing. In the upper part we can see in the mirror the cabinet where the musicians used to play.

On the ceiling there are several paintings with allegories of dance. Images of popular dances, typical dances of the XIXth century, oriental dances and even a portrait of the marquis with a red jacket.

If you want to see more photos, click here.



@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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