What the Central Park is for New York and the Vondelpark for Amsterdam, is Parque del Buen Retiro for Madrid. It is located just behind the Prado Museum and is the most popular park in the city. Especially on Sundays, Madrilenians visit this park for a walk, to watch the numerous street artists or to play a game of jeu de boules (petanca). A wonderful place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the popular sights in Madrid.
The park was originally part of a royal palace that King Filip IV had built in 1632. It was opened to the public in 1868. The palace was largely destroyed during the wars with Napoleon. Two buildings have been preserved. One houses an Army Museum (Museo del Ejército) and the other building (Casón del Buen Retiro) houses paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Joaquín Sorolla.
One of the most striking buildings is the Palacio de Cristal, built in 1887 after the example of the Crystal Palace in London. It was intended as a home for tropical plants from the Philippines, but nowadays there are changing exhibitions.
The park was largely built in the French style, including a rose garden and many statues. One of the most remarkable statues is El Angel Caído, possibly the only statue in the world dedicated to a fallen angel.
At the north side of the park is a large lake. You can rent rowing boats and on weekends this is done on a large scale. There are also restaurants and bars (terrazas) where you can quench your thirst or have a snack.
Website: El Retiro
Address: east of the city centre, main entrance at the Plaza de la Independente
Opening hours: 06.00-00.00
Consult the website of El Retiro park for the latest price information and opening hours.