domingo, septiembre 23, 2007


Jardines del Buen Retiro
2007 © R. Blanco
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The Jardines del Buen Retiro

The Jardines del Buen Retiro or Parque del Buen Retiro (literally "Gardens" or "Park of the Pleasant Retreat") is a large and popular, 1.4 km² (350 acre) park in Madrid's city center, not far from the Prado Museum. Once outside Madrid, the park is now entirely surrounded by the present day city.

The park was originally the site of a royal palace (Alcázar) built in 1632 under the reign of King Philip IV. Most of the palace was destroyed during the Peninsular War, leaving a space that was eventually opened to the public in 1868. The few remaining buildings of the palace now house museum collections.

Within the park is the Estanque del Retiro ("Retiro's Pond"), a large artificial pond. Next to it is the Monument to King Alfonso XII, featuring a semicircular colonnade and an equestrian statue of the monarch on the top of a tall central core.

Around the lake are many puppet shows greatly enjoyed by the children there. There are all manner of street performers and fortune tellers. Row boats can be rented to paddle about the Estanque. Many families in Madrid go there on the relaxed summer afternoons.

The park contains the Palacio de Cristal ("Crystal Palace"), a glass pavilion inspired by The Crystal Palace in London and projected in 1887 by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco. Velázquez Bosco also designed the park's Palacio de Velázquez (named after him).

Another highlight is the Fountain of the Falling Angel, whose main sculpture (at the top) is a work by Ricardo Bellver (1845–1924) inspired by a passage from John Milton's Paradise Lost [1], and which represents Lucifer falling from Heaven.

In the Retiro Park is also the Forest of the Departed (Spanish Bosque de los Ausentes), a memorial monument to commemorate the 191 victims of the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks. Also, the Park yearly features a Book Fair.
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