Retiro Park or “Parque del Buen Retiro” is one of the largest parks in Madrid. It became a public park in the 19th century.
Retiro Park is large and popular, especially at the weekend. It’s located close to the Puerta de Alcalá and not too far from the Prado Museum, "Museo del Prado". It is a magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculptures, monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and is host to a variety of events.
In short, the Retiro park is one of Madrid's top attractions for locals and tourists alike.
Retiro park is now the main green space in the centre of Madrid. There are many monuments, ponds, fountains, sculptures and other interesting buildings dotted around the park. There are also ornamental gardens and countless discrete pathways where you can get away from it all. All this is probably why, when translated to English, the park’s name is “Park of the pleasant retreat”.
Just inside the northern entrance of the park from Calle Alcalá is the Retiro Pond "Estanque del Retiro". It is a large artificial lake where you can feed the fish, rent a boat or simply take a stroll. The centrepiece is a monument to King Alfonso XII. The monument is a semicircular colonnade with an equestrian statue of King Alfonso on the top of a tall central core.
Since becoming a public park, Retiro park has been used as a venue for international exhibitions. Several emblematic buildings are witnesses to these events, like the Crystal Palace "Palacio de Cristal", a glass pavilion inspired by the Crystal Palace in London.
From late May to October there’s a Sunday midday concert given by the "Banda Sinfónica de Madrid". These are free concerts and are at the bandstand near the Calle Alcalá entrance.
There are other interesting events throughout the year such as the annual book fair, concerts, firework displays, and other cultural events.
If you like exercising in the open air there is an outdoor exercise area for all ages from children to retired people. The Retiro park is also home to puppet shows and they even have their own puppet theatre.
If you want to take a tour of the park with a bit of style, why not rent a horse-drawn carriage?
People often come and have picnics or “Botellón” (a picnic and a glass or two of wine). “Botellón” may be a prohibited activity, but it is typically overlooked by the authorities.
Retiro park is living proof of Spain’s love of leisure and outdoor life. As well as the physical side of walking, biking, running or roller-blading through the park, many people just come in for a quiet stroll and a picnic.
If you are in Madrid, the Retiro park is well worth a visit.