Casón del Buen Retiro, Madrid

Category: Madrid

Are you planning a visit to Madrid, the lively and very cosmopolitan capital city of Spain? Do you need some ideas with regard to some interesting sites and attractions to explore during your stay? The sheer abundance of historical buildings, monuments, museums, parks and other interesting sites in Madrid makes it near impossible for tourists to see everything in a single stay. However, if you can find the time, you should seriously consider visiting the Casón del Buen Retiro. In the following article we have compiled some details about this Madrid mainstay, including some notes about its location, history and the striking architecture and adornments that comprise it.

A Closer Look at the Casón del Buen Retiro

Although the Casón del Buen Retiro now forms part of the Museo del Prado, Spain’s most famous art museum and gallery, it began, in 1637, as a ballroom for the Palacio del Buen Retiro, or Buen Retiro Palace. Of all the buildings that once stood on the former palace grounds, structures that were erected for the Conde Duque de Olivares during the reign of Felipe IV, the Casón del Buen Retiro is the only one that remains.

The gardens of the old palace, where many of the old buildings once stood, now comprise the very popular Retiro Park. The Casón del Buen Retiro faces one of the entrances to this park, across from what is now the busy street Calle Alfonso XII. Tourists will have no trouble whatsoever in finding the Casón del Buen Retiro, as its towering facades, four massive columns and sleek neoclassical design are hard to miss.

The baroque-styled Casón del Buen Retiro was originally borne from the designs of architect Alfonso Carbonell, but construction of the structure continued until the latter part of the 17th century under the direction of Jose del Olmo. The baroque style was altered a bit due to renovations made in the early 19th century, and in 1868 the building was nationalized by the revolutionary government under the name Museo Nacional de Reproducciones Artisticas.

Since 1971, the Casón del Buen Retiro has formed part of the Prado Museum and is currently home to one of the most significant 19th century collections of art.

Casón del Buen Retiro boasts a number of unique architectural and decorative features. Guests to the facility will marvel at the main hall and its gorgeously decorated ceiling, a scene painted by Luca Giordano in 1695. A Neapolitan painter who served ten years as Court Painter under King Charles II, Giordano is also celebrated for works that adorn the Royal Palace and Escorial Monastery, among other sites.

When visiting the Casón del Buen Retiro your tour guides will no doubt point out that the façade on the exterior of the building is not the original one. It was restored in 1887 by architect Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, after the original main façade was all but destroyed by an 1886 cyclone that struck Madrid.

When making your way to the Casón del Buen Retiro your best bet is to take the Metro to Retiro Park or the Banco de Espana (Bank of Spain), and make the short walk to Calle Alfonso XII via the Puerta de Alcala.