El Retiro park (Parque del Retiro) is a public park that covers 118 hectares right in the heart of Madrid, making it one of the most important and best-loved places in the city.
Its gardens first “flowered” between 1631 and 1640, when the Count-Duke of Olivares (Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel) gave King Philip IV of Spain the gift of some land that had been given to him by the Duke of Fernán Núñez for the recreation of the Court around the Jerónimos Monastery in Madrid.
The park has many attractive features, such as the lake, a popular place for locals to sunbathe and hire rowing boats. This lake is right in the heart of the park and it’s a must-see. Then there is Paseo de la Argentina del Retiro, more commonly known as Paseo de las Estatuas, where you can admire the numerous statues sculpted by various artists under the supervision of Juan Domingo Olivieri and Felipe de Castro, each one with its own story to tell. Finally, there’s the rose garden, designed by Cecilio Rodríguez, Head Gardener of El Retiro, where you will be enveloped in the scent of roses.
As well as these points of interest, we highly recommend a visit to the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal), Velázquez Palace (Palacio de Velázquez), the artificial hill, the España Gate (Puerta de España), the old Casa de Fieras zoo, the botanic trail, the fountain of the fallen angel, etc. You’ll need more than a day to take in everything that this special place has to offer. It’s great to visit this park either as a couple or as a family, or simply to pop in after a long day at work, to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you want to visit the area and need somewhere to park, you’ll find a Saba public car park on Plaza del Emperador Carlos V. This car park is open 24 hours a day, so you can go and enjoy the park and the city without worrying about your car.