Madrid private tour at the Retiro Park

For the locals any excuse is a good excuse to visit Retiro Park, it is considered to be one of the best things to do in Madrid. Its paths are used by hundreds of cyclists and skaters, the lawns are used for sunbathing, eating or simply hanging out, the pond and its facilities are used as a place of recreation and sports… Children also have a whale of a time on the promenade by the big lake, where there are many magicians, puppeteers and jugglers. Feeding the ducks in the small pond of the Crystal Palace is another of those beautiful memories made in a day at the Retiro Park.

History of the Park

In 1630 Philip IV’s favourite decided to create a recreation area for the crown, opening in the summer of 1631 the Retiro Park. In addition, the Count-Duke of Olivares built for his sovereign an additional Royal Palace, which was finished in 1640.

Both the palace and the park were almost completely destroyed during the War of Independence (1808-1814), and all that remains today is the Cason del Buen Retiro and the former Army Museum; the Park has been restored and embellished with new monuments and gardens in different periods of history.

Monuments in the Retiro Park

Parterre

This classical-style garden was designed in the eighteenth century to magnify the Cason del Buen Retiro, which is in front of it.

Here is where the ahuehuete tree, a species brought bacl from the Old Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico), stands. It was planted here in 1632, is the oldest tree in Retiro and is regarded as the oldest in Madrid too. This tree was the only one saved from the destruction by the Independence War because the French troops used the branches of the tree to place on it the artillery.

Parterre Retiro Park

Alfonso XII Monument

This impressive monument dedicated to Alfonso XII was ordered by his wife, Queen Regent Maria Cristina, after he died. The equestrian statue is surrounded by a colonnade and a staircase to the pond. More than a dozen artists participated in the sculptural group, led by Grases Riera, and Mariano Benlliure was the author of the equestrian statue. It was inaugurated in 1922.

Monument to Alfonso XII

Galapagos Fountain

Made in 1832 to commemorate the birth of Isabel II. It has a dolphin, four children, two turtles and two frogs.

Fuente de los Galapagos

Artichoke Fountain

It was created in 1781 from Ventura Rodriguez’s design. Its original location was on the Paseo del Prado and it belongs to the same project as the Neptune, Cibeles and Apollo fountains.

The decoration shows the artichoke, on top of the fountain; on the bottom Triton and a nereid are holding the shield of Madrid.

Fuente de la Alcachofa

Sculpture of the Fallen Angel

Ricardo Bellver created this sculpture in 1877. It represents Lucifer expelled from paradise while falling on the rocks, with a seven-headed snake squeezing his young and beautiful body. He is screaming to Heaven, with his wings spread. For its dramatic intensity the sculpture could be considered as a Romantic work.

It has been in its present location since 1885, when the pedestal, by Francisco Jareño, was added. Eight monster or demon heads are represented on the bottom.

Ángel Caído en el Parque del Retiro

Crystal Palace

Built in 1887 by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco for the Philippine General Exhibition, its mission was to house the exotic plants brought back from the Philippines, which was at the time a Spanish colony. It is one of the most beautiful representations of iron architecture in Madrid, the ceramics are Daniel Zuloaga’s work.

Next to the palace they located the re-creation of an Indian tribal village who were also brought back from the Philippines, their canoes were shown on the pond, as well as a boa constrictor and some alligators.

Crystal Palace at the Retiro park
Velazquez Palace

It was built in 1883 to house the National Exhibition of Mining, Metallurgical Arts, Ceramics and Mineral Waters. The architect was Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, Daniel Zuloaga did the ceramic works.

In the interior, the iron and glass structure allows natural light to enter the building.
Velazquez Palace Retiro Park

The Rose Garden

Made in 1914 by the gardener Cecilio Rodríguez.

Entrada a la Rosaleda del Parque del Retiro

Big Pond

Here is where they put on plays, musical performances, naumaquias (naval battle representations), etc. All for the enjoyment of the monarchs.

Sculptures of the King of Spain

This set of sculptures is a part of the 114 that were created in the mid-eighteenth century to be a part of the decoration of the Royal Palace, but Charles III wasn’t keen on them so he ordered them to be disassembled and stored away. In 1842, a century after their creation, they were restored and redistributed (in Retiro Park, Oriente square, Sabatini Gardens, Army Museum …)

Mariana of Neuburg Gate

This is a baroque-style gate made in 1689 to commemorate Mariana of Neuburg, second wife of Charles II.

Map of The Retiro Park


View Parque del Retiro in a larger map

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Fuentes de Madrid, Arte e Historia. Agustín Fco. Martínez Carbajo y Pedro Fco. García Gutierrez. Madrid, 2009.
  • Estatuas de Madrid, monumentamadrid Vol I – Colección Libros Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Madrid, 2011
  • Atlas Ilustrado de la Historia de Madrid.  Pedro López Carcelen. Madrid, 2008.
  • Monográfico de El Retiro, Ayuntamiento de Madrid.

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