Retiro Park is perhaps the most appealing open space in Madrid. Originally created to be a royal park, Retiro was opened in 1632 and for over two centuries after that it was strictly accessible only to the royal family and their visitors.
The natural retreat was placed on the outskirts of the city behind the royal palace. In 1868, the park was made public to the citizens of Madrid and remains so today. Soon after that, development of Madrid rapidly began and the city expanded to totally enclose the park.
The park has everything you would expect and much more. Stretching almost one and a half square kilometers, the huge park is a must see when visiting Madrid.
Of course, there are always buskers, street artists, street musicians, jugglers and all of the other usual characters you can find on a sunny day. There are immense green areas and intricate pathways for walking and jogging.
There are also numerous aspects of the park that make it unique to all others in Madrid and all of Spain. Two buildings from the original seventeenth century palace still remain. Both are now museums, one for Spain’s military history and the other is home to an art gallery.
The biggest highlight and center of the park is the beautiful Retiro Lake. Although it is artificially made, it is still just as fun as a natural park and you can even rent boats and go for a paddle along the calm water.
There is a second lake in the park as well, but that one is more commonly known for what lies on its shores. The Palacio de Cristal is a breathtaking glass palace that is over one hundred and twenty years old.
There are other highlights like the rose garden and detailed statues all over the park; some of the more famous ones including El Angel Caido and King Alfonso’s XII monument.