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Madrid, Spain

Museo Geominero

Earth's rocky history has rarely glittered so brightly as it does in this Spanish museum. 

Madrid is teeming with museums, but none quite like the Museo Geominero. Opened in its current location in May of 1926, the collection’s roots extend nearly a century earlier, when engineers and geologists began amassing literal and figurative gems of the nation during a massive project to map Spain’s geology, undertaken in 1849. Housed originally in the palace of the Duke of San Pedro, the current cavernous home of these specimens has become a cherished secret among Madrid’s sometimes ravenous museum-goers.

As if tiers of cases containing sparkly bits mined deep from the center of our planet and invertebrates older than humankind weren’t enough of a draw, the museum itself is a masterpiece in its own right. Housed as it is within a four-story marble and glass building constructed in the beaux-arts style, the ornamentation surrounding the show’s stars are reason alone to visit. Due to architect Francisco Javier de Luque’s adroit inclusion of a massive glass roof, everything contained therein is imbued with an added sparkle due to the natural light radiating from on high. 

Additionally, the Museo Geominero distinguishes itself from its geological peers in its execution of a self-proclaimed mission to educate its patrons. Its displays are accompanied by an uncommon amount of information on all matters geologic and paleontologic, both in Spanish history and far beyond. Visitors to the museum leave not only blinded by brilliance, but with a depth of knowledge about of what so often goes unnoticed underfoot.