Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

El Parque del Buen Retiro is one of the main attractions of the city of Madrid. Known to the locals simply as "El Retiro," the park is a favorite place to spend weekends and summer days and was considered a Royal Park up until two centuries ago. Highlights of the park include several fountains, palaces, monuments and arranged gardens. Discover this historical site step by step in the next self-guided tour.
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Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: emma
1
Puerta de Alcala

1) Puerta de Alcala (must see)

The Puerta de Alcala ("Alcala Gate") is a Neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia in Madrid, Spain. It stands near the city center and several meters away from the main entrance to the Parque del Buen Retiro. The square is bisected by Alcala street, although the street itself doesn't cross through the monument, and it is the origin of the Alfonso XII, Serrano and Olozaga streets. Its name originates from the old path from Madrid to the nearby town of Alcala de Henares. Madrid in the late 19th century, still remained a somewhat drab villa in appearance, surrounded by medieval walls. Around the year 1774, King Charles III commissioned Francesco Sabatini to construct a monumental gate in the city wall through which an expanded road to the city of Alcala was to pass, replacing an older, smaller, gate which stood nearby. It was inaugurated in 1778.

Why You Should Visit:
To see what is considered to be the first modern post-Roman triumphal arch built in Europe – even older than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Plaza de Nicaragua

2) Plaza de Nicaragua

Buen Retiro Park features several alleys and paths named for famous Latin locations, such as Plaza de Honduras and Plaza de Nicaragua. This square presents a beautiful fountain, Fuente de los Galapagos (Fountain of the Turtles), that was built in 1832 to celebrate the birth of Isabella II. The fountain depicts a column embraced by four children and dolphins, and at its lower level stand two frogs and two turtles, from which came the name.
3
El Estanque

3) El Estanque

In the middle of the park lies a large artificial lake called El Estanque. Canoe rentals are provided so you can take a boat ride and relax while enjoying the surrounding views of fountains and monuments, including the Monument of the King Alfonso XII located on the other side of the park.
4
Paseo de las Estatuas

4) Paseo de las Estatuas

The Paseo de Argentina in Buen Retiro Park is popularly known as the Paseo de las Estatuas (Alley of Statues). It features a double array of sculptures, representing several monarchs, that were constructed during the reign of Ferdinand VI. The statues were initially designed to decorate the Royal Palace, but over time have become spread all over the capital, including this park and some provinces.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
El Parterre

5) El Parterre

The area known as El Parterre (Plaza del Parterre) is a newer garden that was designed during the reign of Philip V (1700-1746). There you can see 18th century French style gardens, featuring a rare and wide variety of tree species. It is a favorite place for photographers to use as a background and for locals to take walks.
6
Fuente de la Alcachofa

6) Fuente de la Alcachofa

Fuente de la Alcachofa is a baroque style fountain that was designed in the 18th century by a famous Spanish architect. It consists of a column embraced at its lower level by two Tritons holding the shield of Madrid and at its highest level by children sustaining a circular basin. The fountain is made mostly of limestone and granite. Another identical monument can be found in the city of Madrid on Plaza del Emperador Carlos V.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
The Fallen Angel

7) The Fallen Angel

Located on Avenida de Cuba in El Retiro is the exclusive Fountain of the Fallen Angel. It is the only statue in the world depicting Lucifer, the fallen angel that is frequently interpreted as Satan. Ricardo Bellver, the statue's creator, obtained the First Medal at the National Fine Arts Exhibition for his creation. After some time, the Prado Museum installed the masterpiece in a square in Buen Retiro Park. It is considered a select art work, expressing great dramatism and originality.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
La Rosaleda

8) La Rosaleda

La Rosaleda is a lovely rose garden in the south of the Buen Retiro Park on Paseo de Uruguay. Established in 1915, it was designed after the 'Rosaleda de Bagatelle' garden in Paris and emphasizes a wide variety of roses brought from the most famous gardens in Europe. This area of the park is regularly maintained and manicured to keep up its romantic appeal.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Palacio de Cristal

9) Palacio de Cristal (must see)

When you are in Madrid, don’t miss a visit to the Palacio de Cristal, which you will find in the Buen Retiro Park, the city's most popular park.

The Crystal Palace was closely modeled on the building of the same name in London. It was constructed by the architect Ricardo Velazquez Bosco in 1887. The structure, mostly of glass set in an iron framework on a brick base, is in the form of the Greek cross. It is two-tiered and has a large central dome.

The palace was built to hold an exposition of local fauna and flora from the Philippines. Today the Museo Reina Sofia uses it for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art; it is also used for a yearly exhibition of birds.

This lovely, fragile-looking palace stands in front of a small lake, where you can hire a rowing boat and pay a visit to the ducks, geese and swans that live around the lake.

Why You Should Visit:
The outside is lovely, especially next to the fountain at the front, and of course, the building itself is a beautiful design.
You can walk inside and look around, and entrance is free (including for the occasional exhibits).
After sunset, the lights come on and it takes on another life again.

Tip:
No-queue washrooms/toilet facilities in the basement!

Opening Hours:
Daily: (Apr-Sep): 10am-10pm; (Oct): 10am-9pm; (Nov-Mar): 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Palacio de Velazquez

10) Palacio de Velazquez

In Madrid there are many “palaces” and the most beautiful is undoubtedly the Palacio de Velazquez situated in Buen Retiro Park.

This graceful building was constructed in 1883 by Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, with the collaboration of the engineer Alberto del Palacio and the ceramist Daniel Zuloago. The structure is of two-tone brick with a delicate frieze of ceramic around the building and arches. Ricardo was inspired by a visit to the Crystal Palace in London and the roof of his palace is a long dome of iron and glass, allowing a maximum of light to enter the rooms. There is a short flight of white marble steps leading to the main entrance.

The palace was originally built to house the National Mining Exhibition of 1883. This exhibition included displays of mining equipment, metallurgy and minerals, and included demonstrations of glass blowing. At the end of the exhibition, the building remained empty for some years while the government decided whether or not to turn it into a museum for overseas artifacts. It was eventually taken over by the Ministry of Culture, who did some light restorations before hiring it out for various exhibitions.

Today you can visit one of the many temporary exhibitions of contemporary art put on by the Museo Reina Sofia. The good news is that the entry is free.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez

11) Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez

Buen Retiro Park boasts many historic gardens and well-preserved natural areas, but there is also a new addition known as the Gardens of Cecilio Rodriguez. This area, named after the famous Spanish gardner Rodriguez, is situated on the eastern part of the Buen Retiro Park, and adds a bit of modern flair with its newer sculptures, fountains and greenery.
12
Monument of Alfonso XII

12) Monument of Alfonso XII

The Monument to King Alfonso XII (Spanish: Monumento a Alfonso XII) is located in Buen Retiro Park (El Retiro), Madrid. The monument is situated on the east edge of an artificial lake near the center of the park. In 1902, a national contest was held to design a monument for King Alfonso XII at the initiative of the Queen Mother Maria Christina of Austria. The winner was the architect Jose Grases Riera, whose design consisted of a grand colonnade alongside a pond in El Retiro, with several sculptures surrounding an equestrian statue of the king, with everything constructed in bronze and marble. Upon Grases Riera's death, Teodoro Anasagasti took control of the project without modifying the original design. More than twenty sculptors worked on the project. The monument, financed by a popular collection, was inaugurated on June 6, 1922. It was the first of many commemorative statues that were added to parks in Spain over the last century. The monument is 30 meters high, 86 meters long, and 58 meters wide. At its center is the equestrian statue of King Alfonso XII, cast in Bronze, which was created by Benlliure in 1904. The statue depicts the king on horseback and is constructed of bronze and stone. In the central base of the monument are the statues "La Paz" ("Peace"), "La Libertad" ("Freedom") and "El Progreso" ("Progress").
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Casita Del Pescador

13) Casita Del Pescador

Casita del Pescador is a small cottage surrounded by water and greenery. It stands on a small island in the middle of an artificial pond and was built by King Ferdinand VII as part of a private garden. It can be found in the northeast corner of the park.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Madrid, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

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Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
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City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation Walk II

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Hemingway's Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Souvenirs Shopping Walk

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Salamanca Walking Tour

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The Spanish capital is a vibrant metropolis made up of 21 districts. This walk brings you to and around one of them - Salamanca - one of the wealthiest and most expensive areas of Madrid, home to many foreign embassies and upscale venues. To see what else makes Salamanca a famous destination, take this walk and find out.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Gran Via and Sol Nightlife

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Citizens of Madrid are famous for being dynamic and very outgoing. Living in one of the liveliest cities in Europe, locals enjoy the nightlife, when Madrid transforms into an array of colors and music. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Madrid in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km

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