Retiro Park in Madrid – What to see and do
El Parque Buen Retiro is a beautiful green oasis right in the center of Madrid. locals of this city love parks and gardens, and Retiro park is an absolute hotspot for people who come to enjoy a moment of peace away from hectic city life. Retiro Park is the perfect place to disconnect with plenty of activities, sightseeing, and places to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. In this article, you’ll read more about the various activities at El Retiro Park and why it’s such a popular and loved place amongst locals and tourists alike.
About Retiro Park
Nowadays people go to the park for all kinds of reasons, to go for a walk, enjoy the peacefulness, visit the monuments, rent a small paddle boat on the man-made lake, or do all kinds of sports. However, it wasn’t always as accessible as it is now. The park was created in the early 17th century and was exclusively for members of the royal family and their guests. It was only in the late 19th century that the park was no longer controlled by the royals, opening it up to the public.
Today, the park stretches across 350 acres and connects nature to the concrete city right beside it. One of the most eye-catching features of the park must be the lake. This was made the centerpiece of the Retiro Park when it still belonged to the royal family. They used it to organize mock naval battles and probably enjoyed the sun and beautiful nature as we do today.
El Parque Buen Retiro has great historical value to Madrid, dating back centuries and with its wide variety of activities and public appeal, it would seem its history is far from over. But don’t take our word on it, go have a look for yourself. It’s definitely worth your time whether you’re living, visiting, or passing through Madrid.
If you plan on visiting Retiro Park, this section will help you get there effortlessly. The park isn’t open 24/7. Opening and closing times depend on the month, season, etc. Therefore, it’s important to know exactly when this is. You can find the opening and closing times below.
- Spring and summer (April to September):
6 am until midnight
- Autumn and winter (October to March):
6 am until 10 pm
Retiro Park address:
Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid, Spain
You can easily access the park by the metro. The easiest way is to get off at Retiro and follow the signs until you go through the tunnel and arrive at the park. Other stations that easily connect to El Retiro Park are Ibiza and Estación del Arte. Additionally, you can also get there really easily by bus. Check out the map for the bus stop with the best connection.
What to see in Retiro Park
Rowing Boats on the Lake
One of the most distinctive features of Retiro park is the beautiful lake. This is where you’ll get some breathtaking sunsets with the monument to Alfonso XII standing tall by the side of the lake. If you’re visiting during the day, you can rent a rowing boat for a couple of euros and relax while floating around on the water. If you don’t feel like paddling, you can always enjoy the warm Spanish sun from the waterside and work on your tan.
A Beautiful Place to Work Out
If you love going for a jog or you’re looking for a nice place to ride your bicycle in Madrid, Retiro Park is the perfect place for you. The paths are of good quality and are well-maintained. Additionally, the park is home to La Chopera sports center where you can fitness, play soccer, tennis, etc. Other amenities such as playgrounds make Retiro Park an amazing spot for kids as well.
Visit the Gardens
Another distinct feature of El Parque Buen Retiro are its gardens. These are decorated in their own specific style, each one being different than the other. The gardens that you can find in the park include the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, Jardín de Vivaces, the rose garden Rosaleda, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez, and the Parterre Francés.
The Florida Terrace
If you want to experience the park from a different perspective, the rooftop terrace Florida is located right between the trees. The modern Terraza can be found on the roof of El Pabellón and features incredible views of Retiro Park and its monuments. At the terrace, you can order a drink and enjoy the warm informal atmosphere that Spanish culture has to offer.
Casita del Pescador
Casita del Pescador translates to little fisherman’s house. This is the perfect title for it as you can exactly imagine this when you first see it. The little cottage is located right by the water and features interesting architecture. The little house was originally built for King Ferdinand VII and his family so they could fish in the pond right next to it.
The Fallen Angel
The Fallen Angel is a statue that can be found in Retiro Park on top of a fountain. It is a masterpiece work by the artists Ricardo Bellver that was completed in 1877. The statue has earned many awards and spent most of its early years in museums and art galleries. However, it was eventually moved to the outdoor space of El buen Retiro park so that it could be marveled and enjoyed by the public. The statue was unique for its time, as it depicts many dark themes and creatures, but mostly because it is one of the few artworks in the world that openly represents the Devil and his fall from paradise. You’ll find the monument in Retiro Park, atop a fountain that intersects the Paseo de Cuba, Paseo Uruguay and Paseo Fernán Nuñez,
Palacio de Cristal
The crystal palace in Retiro Park is an absolute must-see when you’re visiting. The structure is made up mainly of iron, combined with glass panels of various sizes. The building was designed for the Philippines exhibitions which took place in 1887. It was originally designed to be a gigantic greenhouse but is now used mainly for exhibitions. To make the crystal palace even more spectacular, there’s a pond in front of it with fountains. This allows visitors to sit around the palace while the sun fades away in the background.
La Rosaleda is a rose garden in Retiro Park. This gorgeous exhibition of color consists of over 4000 roses. The best time to visit the rose garden is between May and June when the flowers are blooming.
Paseo de la Argentina
The Paseo de La Argentina, also known as the Paseo de Estatuas, is an avenue that leads to the lake at Retiro Park. What’s peculiar about the Paseo is that you’ll be surrounded by the statues of previous Spanish kings which are located on both sides of the avenue. This is a great place to go for some history and a great walk leading to the lake.
Retiro Book Fair
The book fair quickly became a big success in Madrid with people coming from all over the world to sell and purchase literature. Due to its increasing size, they moved the fair to Retiro Park in 1967. There is an annual theme that usually focusses on spreading some sort of knowledge. In 2019, the theme was Latin America for example.
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