The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is the fifth most popular art museum in the world.

It may be smaller than some of Europe's other national galleries but the diverse collection at London's National Gallery certainly makes up for its size.

Located off Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is home to some 2,300 paintings, some of which date back to the mid-13th century.

Founded in 1824, entry to the world’s fifth most visited art museum after the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and Tate Modern is free, which is brilliant as it's not restricted to the upper crust. In fact, the crowds here appear almost as varied as the artwork on show.

Unlike most museums in continental Europe, the collection here wasn't handed down by a royal or an aristocrat. It was set up after the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein, a banker and staunch patron of the arts. The initial collection included Italian works such as an altarpiece by Sebastiano del Piombo, The Raising of Lazarus and prime examples of Dutch, Flemish and English art forms, all of which can be viewed today.

Its contents have been described as “encyclopaedic in scope” with works from most major developments in Western painting ranging "from Giotto to Cézanne". It's easy to spend hours poring over the different works whether you're a knowledgeable art head or just someone passing through.

Published On: Sunday, July 21st, 2013