Buen Retiro Park. Urban Park in Madrid, Spain

Buen Retiro Park

Urban Park in Madrid, Spain

Dusk at the Park Photo © Domenica Prinzivalli

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Buen Retiro Park

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Cycling - Buen Retiro Park
Cycling - Buen Retiro Park. Photo by Enrique Céspedes
Buen Retiro Park, or ‘Parque del Buen Retiro’ in Spanish, is one of the largest parks in Madrid, Spain. Its naming literally meaning ‘Park of the Pleasant Retreat’, El Retiro, as it is also known in Spanish, is the most popular park in the Spanish capital. A former royal park only accessible to the royal family, it now is a magnificent public area, home to many events and attractions. Especially on the weekends it gets crowded with locals and tourists, people who go for walks with their families, street musicians, fortune tellers, jugglers, and sidewalk painters. It is a very lively place.

The park comprises 350 acres at the edge of the city center. It lies close to other attractions such as the Prado Museum and the Puerta de Alcalá (Wikipedia Article). In addition to street entertainment, Retiro Park is also well-known for its large boating lark, collection of sculptures, monuments, palaces, and galleries. In summer, there is also an annual book fair and free concerts.


The construction of the Real Sitio del Buen Retiro palace in 1632 by King Philip IV as a royal retreat marked the beginning of the Retiro Park. There had been a park before, the site of a monastery, but it was in the 1630s that it was greatly expanded. Several buildings were built, two of which are still there, the Museo del Ejercito and the Cason del Buen Retiro. The large lake dates from that time as well and was used to hold mock naval battles and other water displays.

A parterre was built during the reign of Philip V in the early 18th century, which is the only French-style garden in the park. Later, the park’s perimeter was beautified and trees and gardens planted. It became a public park in 1868. The striking Monument to Alfonso XII of Spain next to the lake was erected in the beginning of the 20th century.


Retiro Park consists of many different areas, including a lake, multiple monuments, palaces, formal gardens, natural-looking spaces, lawns, and fountains.

Retiro Pond

Retiro Pond, or ‘Estanque del Retiro’ in Spanish, is a large, artificial lake located near the park’s northern entrance. There is the possibility to rent rowboats, which is a very popular activity on the weekends. Next to the lake stands the impressive Alfonso XII Monument that consists of a semicircular colonnade and a huge pedestal with an equestrian statue of the king on top.

Rosaleda Garden

The Rosaleda Garden is the park’s rose garden and one of its main features. The garden consists of several rose-bush-filled areas, but the most notable attraction is the Fountain of the Fallen Angel. The fountain’s main sculpture, El Angel Caido, depicts Lucifer falling from heaven. It is said to be the only public statue of the devil.

Crystal Palace, Madrid's Buen Retiro Park -
	Buen Retiro Park
Crystal Palace, Madrid's Buen Retiro Park. Photo by Enrique Céspedes


The park is home to two great palaces, both designed by the same architect. The Palacio Crystal was built in 1887 after the Crystal Palace in London and stands on the edge of a small pond. The Palacio de Velazquez stands nearby. The two palaces are now used to house temporary exhibitions.

Museo del Ejercito and Cason del Buen Retiro

These are the only two building that remains from the park’s earliest days. The Museo del Ejercito is now an army museum covering Spain’s military history. Highlights in the museum include the sword of El Cid or La Tizona and the cross that Columbus took with him to the New World. The Cason del Buen Retiro is also a museum; it houses 19th- and 20th-century paintings.

Paseo de la Argentina

The Paseo de la Argentina, nicknamed the ‘Statue Walk’, is lined with 18th-century statues of the Spanish Kings from the Royal Palace Madrid.

La Rosaleda - Buen Retiro
La Rosaleda - Buen Retiro Park. Photo by Chris Gladis

Visiting Retiro Park

The park is open every single day of the year. Admission is free. In winter, it is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; in summer, it can be visited between 7 a.m. and midnight.

It is one of the major highlights of Madrid, an attraction that really shouldn’t be missed. Especially in summer, the park is incredibly lively; a place where people go to relax, rent boats on the lake, visit art museums, or simply go for strolls or lay on the grass. There are multiple sports courts, outdoor exercise areas and children’s playgrounds.

Events that take place in Retiro Park include the annual Book Fair and free summer concerts on Sundays from late May to early October, as well as many holiday and cultural happenings.

How to Get There

Retiro Park lies in the east of the historic city center of Madrid. It can easily be reached from anywhere in central Madrid on foot. People who don’t want to walk can take the subway line M2 to Retiro or line M9 to Ibiza. The main entrance is near the Alcala Gate at Plaza de la Independencia.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other landmarks in the city that shouldn’t be skipped include the Royal Palace Madrid, Plaza Mayor, and Cibeles Palace.

Urban parks worth visiting elsewhere in the world are Central Park, the Boboli Gardens, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Apr 02, 2015

Pictures of Buen Retiro Park

fall colors - Buen Retiro Park
fall colors - Buen Retiro Park. Photo by Aris Gionis

Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid - Buen Retiro Park
Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid - Buen Retiro Park. Photo by mookiefl

Retiro Park - Buen Retiro Park
Retiro Park - Buen Retiro Park. Photo by Fintrvlr


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