A “green lung” in the centre of Madrid
Among the many green areas of Madrid, the Retiro Park is the oldest and the most representative. This large “green lung” (covering 125 hectares of land) is in fact located in the heart of the city, right next to the Prado Museum, and is a favorite place not only for tourists, but also for the inhabitants of Madrid who come here to stroll among the more than 15,000 species of trees, the monuments, the fountains, the great lake, the crystal palace, the sports facilities …
The Retiro Park was built in the 17th century as a place of recreation for King Philip IV and his court and was opened to the public only in 1868. The most spectacular part of the gardens is the Lago Grande (Big Lake), crowned by the equestrian monument of King Alfonso XII which “supervise” the boats that ply its waters. Another spectacular element of the Retiro is the Crystal Palace, built in the late nineteenth century as an exhibition hall.
Many are the curiosities scattered around the park: the “artificial mountain”, the “fisherman’s cottage”, the “smuggler’s house”, all “whims” desired by King Ferdinand VII to cheer his court. Among the many artworks inside the Retiro Park, the famous “statue of the fallen angel” is considered the only statue dedicated to the devil.
Since 2004, the Retiro Park has added the “forest of remembrance” to its monuments; 192 cypresses and olive trees dedicated to the victims of the March 11 attack. This wooded space, wrapped as it is in silence and shadow, is extremely suggestive.
If you go to the Retiro Park in spring, a walk to the Rosaleda is a must; in this wide garden there are over 5000 specimens of roses bloom. Moreover, if you are in Madrid between the end of May and the first half of June, the Retiro Park hosts the Madrid Book Fair.