A walk through the picturesque El Retiro Park makes for a tranquil afternoon for both locals and tourists alike. I had strolled the park gardens several times during my visit to Madrid, and it was a relaxing time away from the busyness of the city’s bustle. The park is one of the largest in the city, so there is plenty of ground to wander and decompress.
The park’s full name is Buen Retiro Park, which in Spanish means “Park of the Pleasant Retreat”. It has also been commonly named Retiro Park or El Retiro. These splendid grounds once belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it later became a public park.
Most recently in 2021, Buen Retiro Park became a UNESCO World Heritage site, as part of the combined site with Paseo del Prado; one of the main historic boulevards in Madrid. According to the UNESCO website, Jardines del Buen Retiro Park is a remnant of the 17th-century Buen Retiro Palace, and constitutes the largest part of the property.
The park grounds are truly marvelous and filled with beautiful gardens, statues, monuments, galleries and an artificial lake. The park is completely surrounded by the city of Madrid, but it is still a tranquil oasis within the high energy of the city. El Retiro also hosts many daily activities from roller-blading, yoga, exercise, music, children’s activities and food vendors. You can create a great day filled with fun by yourself, friends or family.
There are many extraordinary sites in the city of Madrid and El Retiro is one not to be missed. I have always felt it was important to take time and relax outside while taking in a new city when traveling. I like to think of El Retiro as similar to a stroll through Central Park in New York City- a calming place to relax within a big city’s hustle and bustle. Enjoy!
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us…
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