THE PARK OF EL BUEN RETIRO.- The capital Spain
has admirable parks and for historic reasons the park of El Buen
Retiro, which was begun in 1625, is the most important of Madrid,
because of its size and its beauty. Its flower-beds, designed
in the French style, contract with the area of gardens in the
English style and its wide avenues skirted by trees and thickly
growing bushes. Since the Park is used as a center for exhibitions,
it has two remarkable buildings for that purpose: the Palace of
Velázquez, with outstanding brickwork and tiles by Daniel Zuloaga,
and the so-called Crystal Palace, the most beautiful building
in El Retiro, which is a jewel of Spanish architecture made of
iron and glass. In both places exhibitions are taking place at
the moment. The Park has other distinct features like the monument
in honour of Alonso XII, which was made by 32 first-class sculptors
within a Modernist framework in front of which there is the small
artificial lake, on which it is possible to row, the monument
in honour of the Fallen Angel, as well as many other statues in
many corners and along the walks, not forgetting the gardens of
Cecilio Rodríguez near the "Rosaleda" (Rose Garden). It is possible
to visit the Park by hiring a horse-drawn carriage.
THE GARDENS OF SABATINI, CAMPO DEL MORO AND PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.- In the vicinity of the Royal Palace, there are the Gardens of El Campo del Moro which were built in the reign of Isabel II. The Gardens of the north side of the Palace, known as those of Sabatini, were built in 1933 when the stables disappeared. The Nearby Gardens of the Plaza de España complete the picture.
THE PARK LA CASA DE CAMPO.- This large terrain was bought by Felipe II on the right-hand side of the River Manzanares. Recently its park features were totally recovered. The Casa de Campo was re-afforested by order of the King with the idea of converting it into a large park for small game near the former fortress, and today apart from sometimes thickly wooded areas it has a large lake with boats to practice sports, apart from other sports installations: eg, a swimming pool, tennis courts, etc. Also in operation is a modern Funfair and a Zoo with all the features that belong to this type of installation.
THE BOTANICAL GARDEN.- Under official protection as a monument since 1974, it is part of the scientific complex which was built in the Paseo del Prado when Carlos III decided to move it to that place. The garden, the entrance gate, the glass-house and the lecture hall were designed by Villanueva. After its restoration in 1980, the interesting collection of flora can be visited as well as the exhibition of living plants that are organized from time to time.
THE ESTATE AND PARK OF LA FUENTE DEL BERRO.- It was bought in 1948 by the City Council of Madrid. Initially it belonged to the Condestable or Governor of Castle. Officially declared an artistic garden, it is one of the most intimate, quiet and peaceful, with its water course, cobblestone walks, glass-houses, fountains and flower-beds.
ROSALES AND THE PARQUE DEL OESTE (WEST PARK).- On the western border of Madrid, the Park of Rosales and the West Park, in which the Rose Garden can also be visited, contribute an important area of green spaces which are doubly agreeable because of their size and the way they are cared for. A cable car connects them with the Casa de Campo.
DEHESA DE LA VILLA.- Perhaps the wildest of all, this park lies near the University City and consists of a sizable pine forest with numerous places for picnicking.