Spend a family day at Retiro Park in Madrid
Visiting Madrid doesn’t have to be all about the culture, art and architecture. Especially if you are travelling with children you may want to hit some of the numerous parks that Madrid has to offer. The obvious park to start with is the largest, and centrally located Retiro Park.
Parque de Bueno Retiro literally translated means “park of pleasant retreat” and it is indeed. Retiro is 350 acres of trees, grass, flowers, lakes, monuments, wide avenues and small paths with fountains and statues. Retiro has something special to offer in each season of the year. In the summer, the shade of the trees is especially welcome as the rest of the city is burning up on the asphalt. In the spring a sea of flowers and flowering trees are blooming in their full glory. The fall offers a stunning array of golden and red tones and not to be outdone the winter has many evergreen trees that keep the park looking lovely and fresh when everything around it is grey and dreary.
History of Retiro Park
Retiro was originally a park exclusive to the Spanish Monarchy. The park has been in existence since the early 1500’s even before the court was officially moved to Madrid. Subsequent Royals extended the park to the present size and design. As you walk through the park you will notice different styles of gardens and botany.
In 1868 the municipality took over the ownership of the park. Initially, when the general public was permitted entry into the park they were expected to wear their Sunday finest. Although that is no longer a requirement, you will often see families dressed very elegantly as they take their Sunday stroll through the park.
Retiro is a very popular park with the residence of Madrid and is therefore packed on the weekends. If you want a quiet walk through the park and you have the possibility of visiting Retiro during the week you may want to that to avoid huge crowds.
What to see in Retiro Park
Retiro will keep young and old entertained. For the young ones, aside from the numerous playgrounds throughout the park, there are puppet shows, musicians entertaining and all manner of street performers. You can even rent boats to go around the lake that is in the centre of the park.
There are a number of buildings and monuments worth seeing in Retiro. The most famous of the buildings is the Crystal Palace appropriately named as it is made almost entirely of glass. It was originally designed as a glorified greenhouse to display exotic flora and fauna for an exhibition on the Phillipines—which was a colony of Spain at the time. Sadly, it is often empty now, although from time to time it will host an art exhibition.
How to get to Retiro Park:
Retiro Park is near the centre of Madrid and has many entrances. The main entrance is at the Puerto de Alcala.
Address: Plaza de la Independencia, 7
Metro Retiro (L2)
Bus lines: 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 26, 28, 32, 51, 52, 61, 63, 74, 146, 152, 202, C
Cercanías (local train) Madrid-Atocha
Times: Spring - Summer: April to September 6.00am - 12.00am Autumn - Winter: October to March 6.00am - 10.00pm