El Retiro park
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The origins of this 118-hectare park date back to the construction of the Monasterio de los Jerónimos by Queen Isabela I and King Ferdinand II (of which there remains only the parish church of San Jerónimo el Real and a baroque-style cloister). Philip II created an area of religious retreat and devotion, hence its name. But it wasn’t until the reign of Charles III when the citizens of Madrid, if properly dressed, were given access to the fenced-off site.
Currently, it’s one of the most popular green areas for people to go jogging, boating, picnicking and walking with pets. It’s worth checking out the monument to Alfonso XII, a large colonnade by José Grases Riera overlooking the pond, the Casón del Buen Retiro, a majestic ballroom that nowadays belongs to the Museo del Prado, and the Palacio de Cristal, built for the 1887 Philippine Exposition. But the gardens of the Retiro have plenty of other attractive features, like a rose garden, the Casa de Vacas cultural centre, and numerous fountains and statues, including the famous Fallen Angel (Ángel Caído).
Plaza de la Independencia, s/n
|Transport:||Retiro (M: L2), Príncipe de Vergara (M: L2, L9), Ibiza (M: L9), Atocha (M: L1)|
|Opening hours:||Winter: Daily 6am-10pm. Summer: Daily 6am-midnight.|