Retiro Park, Madrid
There are several parks in Madrid, but none are as famous or beloved as El Retiro. This park covers about 350 acres, and offers a nice mix of gardens, natural areas, monuments, and arts. Originally, the park surrounded a royal palace, a bit like the gardens at Versailles. However, the palace no longer exists, and the park has now become one of the city's most popular attractions, both for tourists and locals. While it is pleasant to get lost in the park's several trails, most of the action is usually concentrated around the large pond and monument to Alfonso XII. On more than one occasion I found myself drawn to one of the park's sunny patios towards the end of the afternoon to enjoy a glass of wine or beer to the sound of djembes and saxophones, watching people jog by or row around the pond. A nice, green refuge away from the city's noises and crowds.
Reminds me of Central Park, maybe smaller. No doubt , it is one of the best known parks in Madrid. it is located at the Jeronimo's District occupying 120 hectares. Originally, it is the Palace Buen Retiro Gardens which was opened to the public after a decree of the First Spanish Republic in 1868. The park was once where Felipe 1V's royal palce stood. The remains are in Cason del Buen Retiro and in the Spain's Army Museum. The parks garden welcomes every visitor to a change of pace and a pleasant stay .Here you'll see foreign visitors and the locals with families and frineds lingering around , enjoying under the shady trees, boating or having refrescos at the man-made lake.
My hotel was just walking distance from the El Retiro Park and I was awake at 0430 AM because of jet lag --- so I braved walking into the park even during the dark! I walked fast and actually, all I saw was just a person "fixing" the garbage can.
But by the time I reached the large artificial lake called “El Astanque del Retiro", it was already brighter. There was somebody canoeing on the lake and there was nice semicircular colonnade with King Alfonso on a horse.
This park exudes the grandeur that you would expect from the time when Spain was colonizing countries (my motherland included, the Philippines). The 12-hectare park (built by King Felipe IV in 1632) was declared in 1935 a Garden of Historic-Artistic Importance. The gardens were destroyed during times of war, i.e. during the French Invasion of 1808 --- But then restorations were made by later kings ---- so today the public can enjoy the park in all its majestic glory!
You can access the park through the main entrance beside the Alcala Gate, at the Plaza de la Independencia.
Also, don’t forget to visit a new addition to the park ---- The Forest of the Departed (Bosque de los Ausentes) is a somber memorial monument to remember the 191 victims of the March 11, 2004, train attacks on Madrid.
Park is located east of city center, close to Prado Museum. Its main entrance is near the Alcala Gate, at the Plaza Idependence. It is Madrid's most popular park and favorite place for families, street musicians, painters,street performers...The park is created as a royal park. Close to northern entrance of park is beautiful lake. You can rent a rowing boat if you like. There you can see a large monument with statue of King Alfonso XII. In the park there are lot of fountains, Rose Garden, Palacio de Cristal and Museo del Ejercito.
When you are all cultured out and you can't take another Velasquez or Goya what do you do that doesn't cost money (you have had lots of coffees, tapas, beers and cold drinks) ? YOu head for the park and chill out under a tree, that's what you do!
This park is right in the centre of town up from the Atocha station and near to the Prado. It is green ,huge and full of locals to look at.
You can get yourself an ice cream (if you still have any money left!) and eat it on a bench, watch performers entertaining the kids or take a boat out on the HUGE lake in the middle.Or just do nothing. The park is enormous and easy to get lost in and full of great statues and young people eating sandwiches or just hanging out.
Great fun and free!
- Main: El Angel Caido (the Fallen Angel). As far as I know, this is the only monument in the world dedicated to the Devil (the Fallen Angel).
- 2nd: Fray Pedro Ponce de León (1.520-1.584): He invented a method to teach dumb and deaf people to speak, read and write.
- 3rd: Serafín (1.871-1.938) and Joaquín Alvarez Quintero (1.873-1.944): Famous spanish writers.
- 4th: Ruperto Chapí (1.851-1.909): Famous "zarzuela" composer. Zarzuela is a very popular spanish mu¡sic that combines music and theatre.
- 5th: Jacinto Benavente (1.866)-(1.954): Famous spanish playwright.
This building is inside the Retiro Park, but because to me it's special, I thought it should have it's separat place here! The Glass Palace was built in the late 19th Century for the exhibition of exotic plants that came to Spain from the Ph¡lippines. Nowadays the Palace is not a greenhouse, but instead it holds temporary exhibitions that change every once in a while. I've been to a few of them and they are very interesting, so don't miss it!
The Retiro is one of the most famous parks you can visit in Madrid and is situated in the centre, near La Puerta de Alcalá.
Centuries ago, La Puerta de Alcalá was the borderline between centre of Madrid and subrounds but nowdays is a place which is visitated by hundred, perhaps millions of people.
Retiro park has a fantastic trees collection, and some of them are exclusive. Here you can find the oldest tree which has grown in Madrid, ( near Alfonso XIII´s gate but you have to walk straight on and turn to your left hand side around 100 metres Alfonso XIII´s gate).
Besides you have here a romantic lake where many people fall in love...
After walking, if you´re hungry, you can go to Serrano street ( very expensive), but you can take there someting being sure you´re in one of the best shops you can find in Madrid.
Sometimes I ´ve gone to Gran Vía walking since the Retiro park, and after this, I´ve gone to the cinema or I´ve dinner with some of mi friends.
This is something I like much doing!
Here's a glass house you may not mind living in! Located within Retiro Park, it's an architectural beauty.
So if you visit Madrid, check it out. While we visited, there was an interesting sculpture inside. A series of plastic household objects, multi-colored along the bottom, but then white for the main part.
This park is huge and lovely! It's got a man-made lake in the middle from where it's possible to hire a boat and go paddling.. Or you may opt to sit under one of the many trees to take it all in and give yourself a break from city life! The park is also host to some art exhibitions and also home to the Crystal Palace which looks like a large green house..
I am lucky enough to live about 150 meters from one of the entrances to Retiro. So whenever I get a chance I go there to run, walk, read or to hang out with friends. For you runners, my estimation is that its just under 5km/3mi all the way around staying on the path just inside the outer fence.
My favorite parts to relax are just south of the Palacio de Cristal (Glass Palace) (see foto). And to get there from my house I have to walk through the rose garden which in May is wonderful. The crystal palace serves as an art gallery most of the year to art that is usually bizarre but sometimes quite interesting. There is another building close by that also houses art expositions.
Of course the Monument to Alfonso 14th next to the lake/pond is always a cool place to people watch and listen to people playing african drums. And if its a cool day its the warmest there as the sun warms the stones. If its a hot day, rent a row boat on the pond in front and splash your friends!
Another curiousity that draws many visitors is the statue of the Fallen Angel, It is the only public statue in the world depicting Lucifer.
On weekends when the weather is nice (most of the time it is) along the pond you can find storytellers, puppets, Mickey Mouse, massage artists, tarot card readers, people selling jewelry, ice cream and many families out for a Sunday stroll.
On the other hand, use caution. Don't go alone after dark. There are some shady people that hang out in the park. Some selling drugs. If someone you dont know trys to get your attention by saying "psst" or to say hi, they are wondering if you would like to buy some. Just say "No, tio."
Retiro is a beautiful park in the centre of Madrid. It's gets quite crowded there on weekends, especially around the small lake where you can hire rowing boats.
Lots of fortune tellers around there there too, if you're curious about the future....
This magnificent park was built in the 18th century. Its main purpose was to be the delight for the royalty at that time, and that's why the park holds many monuments, fountains ad buildings which stand out because of their elaborate style. This park is great to spend a few hours of the day in. Many people use it to go running, skating or biking, but also to chill for a while! On the side by the pond you will find plenty of people selling handmade jewels, giving chinese massages, or reading the Tarot cards, even sometimes you can find little shows for kids, which can be very entertainning! Beware however that it might be better not to go into the park alone after dark, since there might be "strange" people wandering about, and well, you have to be careful!
I almost forgot! The Retiro park also hosts the very important Feria del Libro (Book Fair) every year (around May). It's a great fair if you enjoy reading, you can find great discounts in books, special editions, and very interesting older books that can be very interesting!
Buen Retiro means "the good retreat". So named because in the 16th century it was the private gardens of the Royalty who used it during Christmas and Easter. Later Philip III decided to build Royal Gardens there.
Today the Retiro Park is open to all with out charge. Only a short distance from the north entrance to the park is a small lake which once was the site of staged navel battles to entertain royalty, today you can rent a row boat and pretend to be one of these ships.
The park is a very popular place, particularly on weekends when street entertainers and venders populate the west side of the lake. You can see many couples and families laying in the shade, taking a break from the city hustle.
Madrid was the first city on our travel and this park provided a great place for a short afternoon nap to recharge the batteries. But as always, keep one eye open for the pickpockets.
I have created another tip on this page about the wonderful Jardines del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park) in Madrid and I indicated there that I was going to write seperate tips about various specific things to see there. Perhaps the most stunning thing of many I saw in the Park was the Palacio de Cristal which you can see here.
I would never count myself as a good photographer and the images here were all taken with a fairly inexpensive compact camera on automatic setting but to be honest it would be difficult to take an image of this place that was not pleasing. There were certainly plenty of others there indulging in shutter frenzy, many of them with huge amounts of kit, tripods and all the gear. With the cloudless sky and the sun shining brightly, the leaves on the turn and the natural beauty of the place it really was photo Heaven. I hope my images reflect this as it was quite magical.
So what exactly is the Palacio then? Well, it is not really very much of anything other than a lovely structure. It was completely empty when I visited although I believe that it is occasionally used for art exhibitions and the like. It is modelled on the Crystal Palace that once stood in South London and still lends it's name to the local Premiership football team. It was built in 1887 to the design of Ricardo Velázquez Bosco and was originally used to exhibit the flora and fauna of the Philippines which, of course, Spain occupied at the time. It is interesting that it started life as such a space as the original Crystal Palace was built to the design of Joseph Paxton who also designed the famous hothouses in Kew Gardens in Southwest London.
Even if there is nothing in it to see as such, the building itself is the star here and it really is worth a visit.