Parque Retiro – a green oasis in Madrid

by Lorraine Williamson
green oasis in the heart of the city

There are many cities that have beautiful green areas! Did you know, Glasgow is known as “dear green place” due to the Brythonic words glas meaning ‘green’ and cau meaning hollow or place?

Another city, with a popular green space, is Madrid. El Retiro Park (Parque Retiro) is a green oasis in the heart of the city. It is popular with tourists and Madrileños alike as there is so much to do and see.

The Park belonged to the Spanish monarchy until the late 19th century when it became a public park. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Exercise and relaxation

glass houseThere is an artificial green lake where you can go boating. Also, there are plenty of areas to exercise. Many people like to stroll, walk or rollerblade. Although a good way to see much of the park is by hiring a bike. But it is also perfect just to relax or practise yoga.

The Park is also home to La Chopera municipal sports centre. The centre has indoor and outdoor fitness areas including a football pitch, 3 multi-sport courts, 3 tennis courts, 3 paddle tennis courts and a fitness trail.

The Eugenio Trias Public Library opened almost 9 years ago. It takes over two large pavilions in the Casa de Fieras (an old zoo) and is dedicated to Eugenio Trias who was a philosopher and a thinker on aesthetics, ethics, religion and politics

Casa de Vacas is a cultural centre that hosts exhibitions, theatre and concerts. However, it was originally built in 1874 as a cowshed and dairy.

Plenty for the kids

The kids will love it too. Teatro de Títeres is the only puppet show in Europe that puts on shows every weekend. There are also play parks dotted around.

Oldest tree in Madrid

A Mexican conifer ahuehuete tree that is reportedly nearly 400 years old and believed to be the oldest tree in Madrid, Spain can be found in El Retiro Park. Furthermore, it was one of the few trees to survive the Spanish War of Independence against France.

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Gardens, monuments, museums, and exhibitions

green oasis and monumentsThere are various beautiful gardens throughout the park such as;

  • Jardín de Vivaces
  • Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (Andalucian-inspired classicistic gardens)
  • Rosaleda rose garden
  • Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios,
  • Parterre Francés, (where the Mexican conifer is located)

Satan in a green oasisNear to the Rose Garden, you can see the statue of the Fallen Angel set in a fountain. This is the only sculpture in the world that is dedicated to the devil. Interestingly, it sits 666 kilometres above sea level. The sculpture depicts Lucifer leaning on a case and surrounded by a 7-headed serpent. It captures the moment when Lucifer is being punished by God and sent to hell. The statue is the transition between this point and Lucifer becoming Satan.

The Velázquez Palace was built in the late 1800s as a pavilion to host the International Exhibition of Mining, Metallurgical Arts, Ceramics, Glassware, and Mineral Waters. It was built by and named after Ricardo Velázquez Bosco.  

Glass Palace is a beautiful glass pavilion originally built in 1887 as a greenhouse for exotic plants for an exhibition on the Philippines. It is one of the finest examples of glass and cast-iron architecture in Spain. This was also created by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco.

overlooking the lakeThe monument of Alfonso XII watches over the lake. There is now a viewpoint there where you can take in the beautiful scenery.

Another spot worth visiting is the Galápagos Fountain, built in honour of the then princess Isabella II for her first birthday.

Throughout the Park, there are outdoor cafés, kiosks and a restaurant that also hosts events.

Retiro Park, a wonderful green oasis for you to enjoy!

El Retiro, a green oasis in MadridFor other interesting places to visit in Madrid, click here.

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