Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro)
The Retiro Park was built in the times of Felipe IV and had several palaces, ponds and gardens. It was used by the royal family.
The lake inside the park is the oldest part of it.Â The monument at one of its sides is dedicated to Alfonso XII and it took more than twenty years to build it.Itwas inaugurated in 1922. The statue of the king was made by Mariano Benlliure.
Within it they also built the Palacio del Buen Retiro (XVII century), called the "hen house" by the people because they said it looked similar and did not like it.
As the materials used to build were not the appropriate ones in the end it had to be demolished.
There are still two parts of this palace that exist today. One was the Museum of the Army (Salon de Reinos - The Hall of Kingdoms) and the Cason del Buen Retiro (Salon de bailes -The Dance Hall).
Both are undergoing some changes and will have direct access from the Prado Museum.
In the Salon de Reinos were the paintings of the Royal Family painted by Velazquez that are now in the Prado Museum.
During the time of the Napoleonic invasion and afterwards, during the Spanish Civil War, the park was seriously damaged.
In the Park are many fountains, including the Fountain of the Fishes and Frogs, the Artichoke Fountain and the Fallen Angel Statue.
This last statue is the only one in the world dedicated to the devil. It shows the moment when Lucipher is thrown out from Paradise. It was carved by Ricardo Bellver in 1885. Another statue by the same author can be seen at San Isidro Cemetery. It is also an angel, this time on top of a mausoleum, but it seems that the original idea was to have them together somewhere.
The Artichoke fountain used to be located in the Glorieta de Atocha and was the first one the people coming by train to Madrid saw when they arrived. It was built in 1781 by Ventura Rodriguez. Originally it was made to be in the Salon del Prado during the reign of Carlos III. As it caused many traffic problems around Atocha it was put in the Retiro Park in 1880.
The Galapagos Fountain was commissioned by Fernando VII in order to commemorate the first birthday of his daughter, Isabel II, so it is also know as the Isabel II Fountain. First it was located in the Red de San Luis where it remained for almost fifty years until it was put in the Retiro Park. The statue shows three fairies giving their gifts to the princess: intelligence, wisdom, good sense, long life and fertility.
All these fountains use water unsuitable for drinking from wells that are in the same park.
The water in the pond also comes from these wells.
In the times of King Felipe IV they used the pond to dramatize sea battle. It was a very popular event.
In the Retiro we can find the oldest tree in Madrid, the Ahuehuete, a mexican tree similar to the cypress. It was planted in 1640.
The cones we can see in the garden are in fact from bay leaf trees.
@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.