If you are ever in Madrid on a Sunday, don’t miss the chance to spend the afternoon in El Retiro, the most popular and widely visited park in the city. Just crossing the street from Puerta de Alcala El Retiro is also the meeting point for all sorts of people, from kids with their rollerblades and young people jogging to families with their kids having ice cream and walking the dog. In summer time people just go and spend the whole day tanning and having fun. The park has a lake where you can take boat rides when the weather is nice.
The park was built for King Phillip IV between 1630 -1640 and it was originally intended exclusively for the enjoyment of the Spanish Monarchy. In the 18th century King Charles III opened it to the public but formal attire was required at all time. As a result of its royal origins the park has many beautiful buildings as decorative fountains and statues.
Among the buildings, the Crystal Palace is considered to be the most stunning one. Made entirely of glass, it was built in 1887 for an Expo to show different kinds of Philippine flowers. It said to be the Spanish version of British Palm House at Kew Gardens. It now hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
Another landmark of the park is the Argentinean Walk, more commonly known as the Statue Walk. People love to walk across this road surrounded by statues dedicated to Spanish Monarchs. The statues were originally built as decoration for the Royal Palace but King Charles III ordered to take them out since, in his personal opinion, they made the palace look too baroque. There were so many statues that some of them were taken to different places of the city and even to other provinces.
The most famous statue in the park is “El Angel Caido”, a sculpture representing Lucifer falling from Heaven. This is the only monument in the world dedicated to the devil. It was designed by Ricardo Bellver who said was inspired by some poems by John Milton.
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