Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park

It is the essence and lungs of Madrid, the best known park, a rich history and memories of youth. I lived not far from it, and use to walk its alleys and greens all over as a youth, then as an adult came to it on every trip to Madrid as if doing a pilgrimage to a sacred place. It is for me always will be Retiro, my park.

The park is 118 hectares or 291,4 acres. It takes its name from Felipe IV royal palace that once stood there. The only remains are the Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) and the Museo del Ejercito (where the sword of El Cid is now at the Army museum, Calle de Mendez Nuñez). The royal family used it from 1632, in the 18 century it was partially opened to the public as long as they came properly dress ,until finally fully open to the public in 1869.

You have the estanque or lake where boats can be rented, at paseo salon del Estanque. A favorite of mine even today, used to take my girlfriend there and oars the boat just to show off ! Then took my girlfriend now wife, did the same just to show off. Then took my boys and wrote them around with the stories just to be sure they do the same ,hopefully !  Beyond the park main view you see the half moon colonnade with the equestrian figure of king Alfonso XII; all of 30 meters high(99 ft)  by 86 meters long(284 ft)  and 58 meters wide (191 ft). To the south of the lake you have two attractive palaces; the neoclassical Palacio de Velazquez(red brick and tiles now an exposition center by paseo de Venezuela )  and the Palacio de Cristal (crystal palace as in London by paseo de la Republica de Cuba). You can come towards the Prado museum and the botanical gardens entry by plaza de Murillo.

The main entrance is by the Puerta de Alcala, the gateway used by king Carlos III (emperor Carlos V) to entered Madrid that in the 19C marked the easternmost entry to the city. Occupying the plaza de la Independencia or Independance plaza. Coming into it the Calle Serrano and Calle Alfonso XII all alongside the Parque Retiro on Calle Alcala. By the corner here across the street from the park at Alcala 83 you will find the church of San Manuel y San Benito, my church in Madrid.

You have large promenades of robust trees leading to fountains and statues, amongst its the La Chopera ( old equestrian center of king Fernando VII today sports installations abound ) ,fountains of Galapagos (b. 1832 commemorating the birth of queen Isabel II at the plaza de Nicaragua) , Alcachofa (by puerta de Atocha at plaza de  la Republica de Honduras  and built in 1781), and Angel Caido or fallen angel (built in 1885 by plaza del angel caido,and only monument dedicated to the devil in the world). When you past by the paseo de la Argentina also known as paseo de las estatuas or alley of statues you will see many such as Enrique II of Castilla or Henry II of Castile etc. From the street Alfonso XII you entered by the Puerta de España or Door of Spain which leads you to paseo de la Argentina and the lake.

by the statue to the marqués de Salamanca or marquis of Salamanca you find the La Rosaleda (built in 1914 by Cecilio Rodriguez gardener) ,its an imitation of the one in the bois de boulogne of Paris for which the Spanish gardener took it queus. Other monuments nearby are the Academy of the Spanish Language (calle de Ruiz Alarcon), monument of queen Maria Cristina (facing cason del buen retiro at ave Felipe IV); Palace of Bruno Zaldo (calle Alfonso XII,26); Puerta de Mariana de Neuburgo (door entrance on calle Alfonso XII to Retiro); in the parterre of the park you will see the oldest tree dating from 1633 original from Mexico call Ahuehuete. Also, in the parterre the monument to Jacinto Benaverte, 1922 winner of the Nobel prize in Literature, there in the parterre there is the lake of Campanillas call for the tower of bells that was there now gone but still the name remains ; Plaza del maestro villa there is the quiosco de Musica or music kiosk ornate dome; Paseo del Estanque is the casa de la vaca or cow house that used to be a milk store, extreme northwest of the park you have the casita del Pescador  or Fisherman house near the artificial mountain, one of the original royal properties still standing there; next to avenue Menendez Pelayo you will find the Casita de Fieras or wild animals house , a small zoo for the entretain of king Fernando VII; jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez or gardens of Cecilio Rodriguez ,the gardener of the city build in 1972 with many ornaments and statues. In the southwest of the park you will find the Observatorio Central  Meteorologico or meteo observatory by paseo del duque de Fernan Nuñez; Iglesia de San Jeronimo el Real a church by calle de Ruiz De Alarcon, 19 (this is where the princes of Asturias swear allegiance to the crown from Felipe II in 1528 to the last one to do it here Isabel II in 1833); Monumento to the Republic of Cuba (at plaza del Salvador, to honor similar monument in Havana,Cuba to Spain, there in Retiro you will see Catholic queen Isabel I and Cristobal Colon(Columbus) built in 1952); Monument to General Martinez Campos at Plaza de Guatemala( built in 1927 to honor the gen that ended the 1er Republic in Spain and also head of Spanish troops in Cuba during the 1860’s); El embarcadero or embarkment for boats built in 1902 where you rent today boats for the lake.

Continue, the Glorieta de los Titeres or guignol theater. next to O’Donnel street you will have the Montaña de los gatos or cats mountain and also known as rollercoster mountain ,it is artificially done by 1816 . Huerto del Francés or French potager used today to recreate plants and flowers at the south part of the park, next to paseo del Uruguay you have the oriental gardens or Jardines Orientales; Pantéon de Hombres Ilustres a sort of Pantheon of Spain as in Paris built in 1867 today lies here Garcilazo de la Vega, Calderon de la Barca, amongst other, located at Julian Gayarre, 3 (some of the bigger names were determine not opt for transfer to the pantheon); and Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha or Our lady of Atocha ,this church given status of basilica by Pope Pius IX in 1863 is founded in an old monastery dating from 1524.located at avenida de Ciudad de Barcelona,3.

The beautiful plazas that surround this park makes an international treasure fort, from the Cibeles fountain at plaza de las Cibeles to plaza de la Independencia at Puerta de Alcala to plaza Canovas del Castillo and Lealtad (by Prado museum) to Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V, passing by the Atocha train station and up Menendez Pelayo to O’Donnell and back to calle Alcala you have the Madrid of the Bourbons, and rich history of Spain all within walking distance. A must for every visitor to Madrid.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: