Retiro is the most important park in Madrid, and one of the most popular places to visit both for locals and tourists. It's 118 hectares of green space in the very centre of the city.
This major urban park was built in the middle of the 17th century to be enjoyed by king Felipe IV. Although the park was partially destroyed during the War of Independence, it recovered its charm and elegance and became public.
El Retiro is packed with things to see like monuments, galleries, statues, lakes and magnificent buildings. There are also numerous activities on every day, from yoga, roller-blading, puppet shows, musicians, fortune tellers and stands with food and different objects for sale.
- Estanque (Lake): The gardens house a large artificial lake where many locals and tourists rent rowboats to explore the “Estanque” or you can hop on a larger boat that goes around the pond. It is very close to the entrance of Puerta de Alcalá.
- Monument to King Alfonso XII: This enormous monument is located on the edge of the artificial lake and was inaugurated in 1922. On Sundays, musicians normally gather near this landmark to play various instruments.
- Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace): Built in 1887 in a wooded area with a small artificial lake, full of small tortoises, the Crystal Palace houses numerous contemporary exhibitions. When it was built, it was initially used as a greenhouse.
- Palacio de Velázquez (Velázquez Palace): Located very near the Palacio de Cristal, this art gallery always features temporary art exhibitions and is free to visit: highly recommended for fans of art.
- Paseo de la Argentina: Also known as the Paseo de las Estatuas (Statue Promenade in English) is a broad promenade with two lines of statues dedicated to Spain’s monarchs. The first statues were commissioned by Ferdinand VI to decorate the Royal Palace.
Great for kids
El Retiro is not only one of the most visited parts of Madrid, it is also ideal if you are travelling with children. Almost every Saturday and Sunday the puppet theatre offers great shows for kids, actors dress up as cartoon characters, you can take them rowing in the big lake and there are also numerous play and swing sets.
From October to March: 6 am until 10 pm.
From April until September: 6 am until midnight.