El Parque de el Buen Retiro, Madrid’s Park

Retiro2

El Parque de el Buen Retiro , more often known as “El Retiro” is one of the most visited sites in Madrid. The name translates as “the park of pleasant retreat”. Located in the center of the city, it is a relaxing haven for locals and tourists alike.

The park grounds span more than 100 hectares and 400 years of history. Construction began in 1630 when it was ordered that King Felipe IV have a residence close to the city, but still removed from the political activity. The residence has since disappeared and the only thing that is left from that time is the Estanque Ochavado, a fountain that dates back to the 17th century. In 1868 it was officially opened to the public, though at the time, a strict dress code was enforced. Things are a lot more casual today, as many people come dressed ready for exercise or even take in the sun during spring and summer months.

What to see

  • The pond known as “El Estanque” has been used for mock naval battles and swimming competitions, but is now only used for row boats.
  • The Monument to Alfonso XII lies alongside the pond and makes for spectacular photos and is also a popular picnic spot.
  • El Palacio de Cristal (the Crystal Palace) was built in 1887 to display the exotic plants from the Philippine Islands, but is now used to display art exhibits and is free to the public.
  • El Palacio de Velazquez is just across from the Palacio de Cristal and is also used to display art free to the public.
  • The statue  known as “El Angel Caido” (the fallen angel) is a said to be the only statue like it in the world.
  • El Pabellon de los Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez- a newer addition built in the 1970’s to pay homage to one of the parks’s most famous Directors, Cecilio Rodriguez. Here, you’ll find many peacocks roaming the grounds freely.
  • La Rosaleda is a garden was designed by Cecilio Rodriguez in 1915 and boasts many varieties of roses.

 Important Information about Retiro

Open from 6am until midnight (April –September) and 6am until 10pm (from October until March)

Address: Plaza de Independencia 7, Madrid 28001

Metro: Retiro

A day at Casa del Campo

The lake at Casa de Campo park

The lake at Casa de Campo park

Madrid has plenty of parks to explore, but most tourists opt for Retiro Park. If you’re searching for a bit of nature within the city center, check out the lesser -known, yet much larger Casa Del Campo. This is Madrid’s largest park, covering more than 1700 hectares. To put things into perspective, that’s about 5 times the size of New York’s Central Park! It was once used as royal hunting grounds, but was opened to the public in 1931. Since then, it has become a popular place for locals to enjoy a monthly farmer’s market, visit Madrid’s amusement park or the zoo. Complete with a lake and plenty of trails, it’s also become the favored location for various marathons and triathlons.

This park is easily accessible by metro, but perhaps the best way to enter the park is by taking the Teleferico cable car located near metro  stop “Arguelles” or “Plaza de España”. The ride above Madrid will give you a wonderful view of this endless park.  Click here for a map of Casa de Campo and read on to start planning your day at Madrid’s largest park.

What to see

If you’re interested in visiting the lake, take the metro to the “Lago” stop, where you can rent a rowboat or enjoy a nice picnic. Also near the area are pools, tennis courts and Ferial Casa de Campo, a setting used often for conferences, exhibitions and summer concerts.

Adventure seekers and families alike can find plenty to do at Madrid’s amusement park, Parque de Atracciones located near the “Batan” metro stop.

If sea creatures and wildlife are what you’re seeking, head towards the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium by taking the metro to the “Casa de Campo” stop.

Where to eat

Finally, after a morning of fun at Casa de Campo, unwind and enjoy a casual meal at Casa Mingo . It opened in 1888, making it the oldest cider house in Madrid. Quench your thirst with locally made cider and choose from a short, but classic menu, which includes their famous roasted chicken.