When it opened in the late 1700s, the Parque del Buen Retiro served as a retreat for the Spanish royal family. Today, however, it can be enjoyed by everyone – gardens, statues and all. Here’s what to check out in the capital’s premier park.
Although the lake is man-made, the peaceful waters set in front of the massive columns and statues of the Alfonso XII monument are a sight to see, especially around sunset. You can even rent a rowboat for a few euros and paddle around the lake. Visitors like to feed the giant grouper fish living in the pond, and you can also watch the ducks paddling by on the lake’s tranquil water.
Set on a small pond, this quaint, brightly coloured house resembles a doll’s house. Located next to one of the lesser-used entrances, Casita del Pescador is in a relatively quiet area of the park. It’s also situated next to a hill you can explore and features a little waterfall.
One of the most iconic buildings in Madrid, the Crystal Palace is made almost entirely of glass. Enter the building to see the sunlight streaming in through the solid glass panes and admire the art exhibitions that are changed out seasonally. The building is surrounded by a small lake where terrapins, frogs and ducks all live together. If you cross in front of the lake, you can get a gorgeous photo of the palace with the lake, trees and sunshine in perfect harmony.
These enclosed gardens have a very special feature – peacocks. Set off to the side of the park, this spot is fairly difficult to find, but once you discover it, you won’t want to leave. Follow the peacocks through the maze-like bushes, trees and quaint ponds, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see them flying down from the tall trees in the garden.
May is the ideal time to visit La Rosaleda, the circular rose gardens of Retiro Park. Located fairly close to the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez, the garden features over 4,000 blooming flowers in various colours, shapes and sizes. The archway trellises, covered in ivy and roses, make you feel like you’re in some kind of fairytale, and picturesque fountains and park benches complete the experience.
For a little bit of Spain’s royal history, wander down the Paseo de la Argentina, also known as the Paseo de las Estatuas (Statue Walk). As you might guess from the name, the path is lined and decorated with 18th-century statues of Spain’s past royalty. This spot is perfect for a leisurely stroll and a little bit of culture at the same time.