It's hard to miss the National Gallery sitting in the centre of London's iconic Trafalgar Square; indeed, it is the fourth most-visited art museum in the world.
In 1824 the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein, a businessman and patron of the arts. Most of the rest of today's collection came from its directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations. The collection isn't large by European standards (over 2,300 paitnings), but it's one of the best in so far as it has works on show from all the major developments in Western painting from the 13th to 19th centuries.
The museum's worls-class collection features remarkable works from the Italian, Dutch, Flemish and English schools, and is home to paintings by Velázquez, Van Gogh, Turner, Michelangelo, Dürer, Rubens and Degas, among many others. Don't miss The Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano del Piombo, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Monet's Water Lily Pond, Holbein's Ambassadors and Da Vinici's Virgin on the Rocks to name but a few.
While this impresive permanent collection is free of charge, be sure to check out the equally intriguing temporary exhibitions which the Gallery hosts throughout the year.
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Open every day 10.00-18.00; Fridays 10.00-21.00.