El Retiro is the biggest and oldest park of Madrid. Thousands of tourists consider it to be one of the main landmarks of Madrid, like what Central Park represents to New York. The direct translation for El Retiro is “The Retirement” park, as it was used for the Royal family in the 16th century as a resting place. Lose yourself inside its 125 hectares (approximately 308.8 acres) and visit the hidden artistically and historical surprises that Madrid has for you!
A museum inside a park: Crystal Palace
This iron building has the resemblance of a small cathedral with the walls and the roof made of glass! If it seems familiar to you it might be because it reminds you of The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, as it was inspired from it. It was initially constructed to showcase exotic plants in The Philippines Exhibition (1887). Nowadays it is owned by the Reina Sofía Museum and has temporary exhibits for contemporary art lovers: the entrance is free! It is very easy to admire the park’s trees from inside the museum: the mock orange autumn flowers, the squirrels and turtles that gather together around the pond to take the Sun and smile to tourists’ cameras. It is very easy to fall in love with the park in Autumn, especially with the trees dressed in red, orange, and yellow.
"Painting the roses red" in the Rose Garden
Upon entering the Rose Garden, the first thing that comes to mind is a scene from the Alice in Wonderland Disney movie; you know, the one where the cards are painting the roses red for the queen! Don’t worry though, there’ll be no “Off with his head!” this time. This garden is over a century old, and it was made to give an elegant touch to the park. The best months to visit it are May and June, since the rosebushes regain their splendor. The view is unique and the roses are really well preserved. I bet you’ll think about the movie too!
Practice your rowing in the big pond
Want to run away from stress and find a place to really relax? How does feeding the pond animals from your boat sound? Here you’ll understand why postcard companies use pictures of this place so much. One of the most impressive and distinctive sights is the King Alfonso VII monument, which decorates the big pond and is almost a century old. Feel free to rent a boat in any season of the year (preferably in Summer) and catch the peaceful, familiar, and unique environment from the park, especially on Sundays. The price for renting the boats depends on the day of the week, but it’s usually between 5 to 8 EUR (approximately from 5.35 and 8.5 USD). I also recommend that you take the boat trip, which is only 1.5 EUR for a 15 minute ride (approximately 1.6 USD).
Last but not least: the nature trail
One of my favorite things about this park is that it has so many different kinds of trees, like elms, pines, and cedars; the trees provide a home for the pigeons, sparrows, and squirrels that live in the park. If you’re curious about how old they are then you should definitely visit the oldest tree in the park, which is a bald cypress that is over 400 years old! If you want to jog or go for a bike ride, this is the perfect place. It is the preferred place of many athletes who gather and exercise frequently in the weekends.
Don’t miss out on Madrid’s natural landmark
El Retiro is one of the favorite sights for all types of travelers, but nature lovers will enjoy it the most. Don’t miss the park, one of the few sights you’ll be able to enjoy for free in Madrid!
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