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El Retiro Park

Parque de El Retiro
4.5/5
252 Reviews
based on 56877 reviews
No. 1 of Top Family-friendly Attractions in Madrid
City Parks
Open Opens at 6:00-22:00
Recommended sightseeing time:2-3 hours
Address:
Independence Square, 7, 28001 MadridMap
Phone+34-914-008740
What travelers say:

Originally the spiritual retreat of Spain’s ultimate power couple, Isabella and Ferdinand, Retiro evolved into a pleasure palace when the rather less devout Felipe IV wore the crown. Built by his valido (the equivalent of Prime Minister), the Conde Duque de Olivares, more than 20 buildings went up between 1630 and 1660 to please the playboy king who enjoyed balls, theater and reenactments of naval battles performed on the park’s central lake. The Palacio de Velazquez is not the only Reina Sofía gallery nearby. Venture further south and you’ll come upon the Palacio de Cristal, a huge greenhouse built in 1887 to house flora brought over from the Philippines — then a Spanish colony. Sadly, at the time, Filipino natives were also brought over and forced to live in their “natural habitat” by the side of the ornamental pond outside. The dark history of this human zoo was rightly exposed and condemned in a 2021 exhibition by Filipino artist, Kidlat Tahimik, held in the space.

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