The Retiro park, my Retiro, my Madrid!!

Ok so on a semi cloudy  Thursday waiting for the World Cup football/soccer games, I have become nostalgic again. And that means coming back to my beloved Madrid. I lost count of the entries on Madrid or Spain in my blog, but they should be plenty just do search. Madrid is special because not only is my Spain ,but lived there in beautiful moments of my life.

I had to come back to the Retiro park, yes it was practically my backyard, not far from my house a couple metro stops and many times running,chasing,and eating playing you name it in it. The park of my first loves, my youth, my adolescent my early days of free life in my beloved dear Madrid. Even here, my journey with what later become my wife started, my dear late wife Martine (our first trip out of France with her I had to take her to Madrid and the Retiro was grand )still loved to come here each year with me and then with the boys. I can say my life can be resume with one word Retiro. This is Madrid at its best, yes I know ,there are many wonderful monuments and great museums people go to, but for me this is it. If can only have time for one thing would be to come to the Retiro park.

What’s in the name, well , it is known as the Parque del Retiro or Parque del Buen Retiro,and popularly call simply El Retiro. In its historique life ,it was also known as the Parque de Madrid, as you can still see written in some gates or Puertas coming to the park. . This was used when it was made part of the municipality of Madrid in the last third of the 19C. It is, also,known as the Jardines del Retiro or Jardines del Buen Retiro, even if this name has a restriction covering only the area created in the end of the 20C where today you have the Palacio de Cibeles on lands that belonged to the Royal Palace.

Anyway I have written several posts on it and would like to remind my readers about them here

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/12/18/parque-del-buen-retiro-or-retiro-park/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/05/30/a-new-look-at-my-best-souvenir-of-madrid-retiro-park/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/05/01/one-more-time-retiro-park-madrid/

And, will give you a run down for things to see and do in it. Of course, not exhaustive, heck you can get almost anything there now…  Let me briefly tells you about some of the wonders inside the Parque del Retiro.

The gates or Puertas:

Puerta de Felipe IV (or Mariana de Neoburgo) is the oldest gate today in Madrid done in 1680.

Puerta de la Independencia, done in 1817 as entry gate to the Casino de la Reina located in the Ronda de Toledo. In 1885 it was transferred to the Retiro park by the Cibeles fountain and square.

Puerta de España done in 1893 located at Calle Alfonso XII connecting to the Calle Antonio Maura and the big lake or Estanque Grande by the Paseo de la Argentina (before name paseo de las Estatuas or statues)

Puerta de Madrid at the corner of Calle de Alcalà and Calle O’Donnell, it is open to the Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or Paseo de Coches/ carriages),the longest in the Retiro (the Promenade).

Puerta de Hernani, first built in 1888 in metal, replaced in 1943 for a bigger one, located in the Calle de Alcalà in front is my family Church Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito.

The monument/buildings:

The Ermita de San Pelayo y San Isidoro, built in the 11C outside the gates of Avila and brought to the Retiro park in 1896; now only the abside and a lateral door remains.

Real Observatorio Astronomico, built in 1790 on the height of the hill or cerro de San Blas in the Retiro that today are next to the Prado museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens part of the idea to give Madrid a district of Natural Sciences!

Palacio de Velàzquez while holding events in the Retiro park one of them was done here built between 1881-1883 for the national exposition of mining, metarulogical, ceramics, glass and mineral waters.

Palacio de Cristal (Crystal palace) an architecture of glass and metal to house different species of vegetables coming from the Philippines due to the exposition of 1887 on the country. As well as the Palacio de Velazquez ,the Palacio de Cristal is used for exposition center of the Reina Sofia Museum.

And it has many fountains , such as:

They  have from the 18C, two fountains in the parterre garden that are twin representations . there is also , the Fuente de la Alcachofa built in 1871. From the 19C , we have the Fuente Egipcia located next to the big lake or Estanque Grande as well as smaller fountains such as the Fuente de la Salud y Fuente de la Gruta decorated with corals simulating caves, and the Fuente de los Galapagos with a pedestal like a palm with children figures mount on dolphins on the base; this one was first set up at the street Red de San Luis in the Gran Via in 1831. In 1879 it was transferred to the Retiro park at the Plaza de Nicaragua, near the big lake. The popular Fuente del Angel Caido built in 1885 and some said the only fountain of a devil in Spain . From the 20C we have the Fuente de Cuba done in 1929 as a monument to the nation of Cuba as well as the Fuente de la Gaviota 1962 located in the gardens or Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inside Retiro park of course) surrounded by a sculpture group.

Madrid

There are walks, trails, promenades inside Retiro park , my favorites are:

The Parterre of course. One of the first gardens on the French style done in Spain; work began in 1716 and finished in 1722.

Paseo de la Argentina (or de las Estatuas (Statues) ) there are parallel to the Parterre. Takes its name because of the statues on its sides belonging to a series of Spanish kings created by the middle of the 18C to decorate the corners and niches of the Royal Palace on orders of king Carlos III ,however,he later figure they were too much and removed them. After several decades in storage, by 1843, they were rescue and put in several spots around Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. In Madrid, you can see them at the Plaza de Oriente and the gardens of Sabatini or Jardines de Sabatini, both near the Royal Palace.

Jardín madrileño. Came from reforms pushed by queen Isabel II from 1841 and this garden is located to the south of the Parterre.

Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or de Coches (carriages)).Done in 1874 and vehicules were still permitted on it until 1981. It is a big promenade all along the park.

La Rosaleda, done in 1915 by famous Spanish gardener Cecilio Rodriguez (1865-1953) similar to the one at the jardin de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris from which the gardener brought 12000 roses of more than 350 species, and created a greenhouse of steel and glass very near the Paseo de Fernàn Nûnez. Upon the Spanish Civil war it was badly damaged and was rebuilt it in 1941.

Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios (former Casa de Fieras or zoo) ; this was the old zoo of Casa de Fieras created in 1774 by king Carlos III in the street Cuesta de Moyano (where today you have a book stalls fairs each year) In 1830 it was transferred to the Retiro park upon instructions of king Fernando VII. Eventually, transferred to the Casa de Campo in 1972 (where the zoo still is) the place was name after the architect that was the gardener at the time. The place is very nice and it is preserved many parts of the simple old zoo like the pavilions, cages, and sculptures from the original zoo. Some were decorated and the pavilion called La Leonera o( the lioness from the first third of the 19C now it is a library on site!

Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, the pioneer gardener of Retiro park who built one of his original gardens here as an extention of the Casa de Fieras (old zoo) done in 1918. When the Spanish Civil War destroyed it and the same gardener rebuilt it in 1941. On the rebuilding he change the decoration and laidout of the garden with a rectangular floor flank on three sides by pavilions that are now used for official events. IT houses several elements of gardening, fountains, pergolas, basins, ornamental columns, chess floors and sculptures groups from Hispanic Arabesque look.

Bosque del Recuerdo ( rememberance forest) was done in 2004 at the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V in honor of the victims of the terrorist act of March 11, by 2005 was place at the southwest side of Retiro park very near the Atocha train station. It is an artificial mountain surrounded by a basin on which are planted 170 cypress trees, 22 olive trees in honor of the 192 fallen on the terrorist act.

Madrid

The Retiro park also has as we call it Caprichos or whims usually of a king or queen. Two of them ,I have already discussed it above such as the Fuente Egipcia (Egyptian style fountain) and Casa de Fieras (the zoo). Those now still there are

Casita del Pescador. Fisherman’s house is a small house of square shape and two levels with roof in zinc and water spouts.

Montaña Artificial. Also known as the Montaña Rusa de los Gatos (rollercoaster mountain of the cats) because of cat sculptures on it. It is a hill on steps with lots of vegetation and corals on which you see several cascades that falls into a basin . There is a trail on the sides crossing several bridges with towers like a fortress in miniature and inside there is a funerary space from which you can come by three doors .However, check because it was closed for deterioration and do not know if re open

Casa de Vacas. Or house of cows here it used to milked cows and provide milk. Right now it has been rebuilt due to the storm of 1886 and the fire of 1982, Today it is a cultural center of the city of Madrid.

Casa del Contrabandista. The contraband house, as the previous one it has been rebuilt due to its use as a hostal lodging during the 20C and 21C. It was designed as a water wheel that is why circular and covered like a dome. At the roots of it had a collection of automates with Andalucian motifs such as a priest, and a bandid contraband that is why the name of the house.

Castillete medieval. A small medieval castle originally called the Torre del Retiro or the tower of Retiro with a middle ages aspect with four angle towers, three levels and a flat cover. At the end of the 20C was given to the Meteorological service currently it is without use and in bad shape.

Some of the lakes or estanques in the Retiro park you can see today are

Estanque Ochavado (or de las Campanillas (small bells)) The date of construction is not known but it has to be before the big lake or Estanque Grande. It is done with eight sides and a small isle in the center with a coral decoration today

Estanque Grande or big lake, was ordered built in 1634 done to extract water for the Royal Palace and use for fishing and boating as well as theatrical shows . In 1817 it was built a pavillon with oriental designs and later destroyed tobuilt what you see today the Monument to Alfonso XII. In 1917,it was done a new one located on the north side that caught fire and again was rebuilt in 1926 as the one that has reach our days. Just a must ,gorgeous spot many memories crying just to write on it.

Madrid

Ría de Patinar. An skating stream done in 1876 to replace a previous one that is now at the Rosaleda. It was chosen an area shady to keep the water colder frozen even so that the ice skating could be done, it has an oval shape around a garden isle.

Estanque del Palacio de Cristal ; small lake right in front of the palace built in 1887. Done in a rocky cave and a nice water basin.

Rias del Estanque Grande y Ria de La Chopera; on each side of the monument to Alfonso XII the two merge.160 for the Estanque and 200 for Chopera meters long , not known when they were created but probably end of the 19C, shown in maps until 1900. The Ria de La Chopera is from the same time and has 200 meters running.

Estanque Rustico, the gardener Cecilio Rodriguez did this one to provide water to his gardens from 1918 , the lake has a bridge and a masonry factory with brick lines.

There are the statues still left in the Retiro park from the times of king Carlos III, these are kings done in the 18C along the Paseo de la Argentina or de las Estatuas along the paseo from west to east are Fernando IV of Leon and Castilla, Sancho IV of Leon and Castilla, Enrique II of Castilla, Garcia I de Leon, Urraca of Leon and Castilla, Berenguela of Castilla, an empty pedestal follows then, Gundemaro, Visigoth king, Carlos I of Spain, Carlos II of Spain, Ramon Berenguer IV count of Barcelona and prince of Aragon, Chintila, Visigoth king , Alfonso I of Aragon, and Sancho IV el Bravo of Castilla.

There are ornamental monuments such as these:

Monumento General Martinez Campos, done in 1907 at the Plaza de Guatemala behind the monument to Alfonso XII, is an equestrian statue in bronze. He was sent to Cuba to try to pacified the independence rebellion in vain

Monument Benito Pérez Galdos done in a square of the same name next to the Paseo de Fernàn Nùnez. It is made of white stone of Lérida, and with 2,10 meters high ,1,3 meters wide and 2,2 meters deep opened in 1919 with the presence of the actor himself invalid and blind.

Monument Alfonso XII, it was called a national contest to built it upon the request of the regent queen Maria Cristina, the winner finally did it inspired on the monument of William I of Berlin, built this one in 1922 . It is at the west side of the lake or Estanque Grande and has 30 meters high, 86 meters long, and 58 meters wide. Around the king you have statues of representation of peace, progress and liberty . Around the hemicycle you have other statues representing The army and marine, the sciences, agriculture, Arts, industry, and two lions.

Madrid

Monument Santiago Ramon y Cajal, in the Paseo de Venezuela done in granite stone and bronze. In the center of a basin with Etruscan figures and fountains representing the life and death, done in 1926.

Monument Jacinto Benavente, is in the parterre garden forming an axis with the Puerta de Felipe IV and Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) . It has a female figure of Greek inspiration with arms rise showing a mask referring to the theatre one of the genre of Jacinto Benavente, it was done by popular donations and finished in 1962.

There is extensive flora and fauna here as well as great sports installations.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip in addition to my blog posts above are

tourist office of Madrid on Retiro park: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

City of Madrid on Retiro (sorry long link):  http://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/El-Ayuntamiento/Parques-y-jardines/Patrimonio-Verde/Parques-en-Madrid/Jardines-de-El-Buen-Retiro/?vgnextfmt=default&vgnextoid=499561945d9ec210VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=38bb1914e7d4e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD

The Comunidad de Madrid region tourist office on Retiro: http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid/de-inter%C3%A9s/5111-parque-del-retiro.html

Hope you get an idea, this is a must, a lingering must in Madrid. Cannot come to the city without visiting day and night. To me ,it is a pilgrimage each time. To Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day:yes, and the Retiro is a big spot looking down!

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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