Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro)

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The Buen Retiro Park is a large (1.4 km2) and popular park at the edge of Madrid’s city center, very close to the Puerta de Alcalá and the Prado Museum. This magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments, galleries, peaceful lakes and ponds is also host to a variety of events. It is one of Madrid’s main attractions.

The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. Countless statues, fountains and commemorative monuments make the park an open-air sculpture museum.

In 1505, at the time of Isabella I, the Jeronimos monastery was moved from an unsuitable location elsewhere to the present site of San Jeronimo el Real Church, and a new monastery was built in Isabelline Gothic style. The royal family had a retreat built as part of the church. The gardens were extended in the 1620s, when Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, Philip IV’s powerful favourite, gave the king several tracts of land in the vicinity for the Court’s recreational use.

In the 1630s, under the supervision of architects Giovanni Battista Crescenzi and Alonso Carbonell, several buildings were erected in great haste, two of which are still standing: the “Casón del Buen Retiro” which served as a ballroom, and the “Salón de Reinos” (Hall of Kingdoms), its wall decorated with paintings by Velázquez and Zurbarán and frescoes by Luca Giordano.

The Buen Retiro Palace was used until the era of Charles III. Most of the palace was destroyed during the Peninsular War (1807–1814). The gardens eventually passed to public ownership in 1868, at the time of the overthrow of Queen Isabella.

Fun fact: Among the many rose bushes of the Rosaleda rose garden stands the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, erected in 1922, whose main sculpture El Angel Caído (at the top) is a work by Ricardo Bellver (1845–1924) inspired by a passage from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, represents Lucifer falling from Heaven. It is claimed that this statue is the only known public monument of Satan.
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Getting here:

Metro: L1 (Atocha), L2 (Retiro), L9 (Ibiza)

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