For our last full day in Spain, we had no tours scheduled. Usually when we travel, we don’t make a lot of plans. That allows us to factor in environmental elements like the weather, events, etc. as they occur. Having seen most of the sights we wanted to see in Madrid, we decided to just do a “walk-about”. And the first place we headed was across the street from the hotel, El Retiro Park.
Parque de El Retiro
In Spanish, El Retiro Park would be called the Parque de El Retiro, or “The Park of the Pleasant Retreat”. This park used to be the private playground of the Spanish monarchy, but in the late 1800s they ceded the area to the city for a public park. It is free and open to the public, and it is frequently used by locals the same way that residents of New York City use Central Park. It is a beautifully planned park, with wide avenues, paths and lined with trees of all varieties. Beautiful water fountains dot the landscape, and different areas of the park have a different “feel”. I can only assume that was the intent.
Monumento a Alfonso XII
There are also several monuments within El Retiro Park. The first one we encountered was the Monument to Alfonso XII. This impressive statue stands 30 meters high, flanked by a curved colonnade on either side, with stairs from the statue leading down to a massive lake.
Palacio de Cristal
The next structure we stumbled upon during our walk was the Crystal Palace. Situated next to a small lake, it was built in 1887. It’s original purpose was to exhibit native flora from the Philippines, a long time Spanish colonial possession. However, the Philippines were lost to Spain as a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Largely empty now, its main draw now the glass and iron frame architectural design.
Walk About Madrid
Once we finished strolling in the park, we stopped for a late lunch. Having prepared everything for our flight home, we decided on our last night to walk through nearby neighborhoods we hadn’t visited before. Our journey took us south of our hotel, past the city’s botanical garden (El Jardin Botanico) to the area of Atocha. From there we walked down the Paseo del Prado, ending up at the Prado Art Museum we visited a few days before. Zigzagging our way through some of the back streets, we were impressed by the clean streets, beautiful architecture, and small bars and restaurants. Even off the beaten path, Madrid is a beautiful city.
Photos of the Day