Parks in Madrid, SpainCategory: Madrid
Unlike most major cities, whose green space and common areas have given way to new construction and are now very limited at best, Madrid boasts one of the most extensive areas of parks, gardens and environmentally-friendly zones of all European cities and world capitals. Taken collectively, these areas make up over 33 million square meters of parkland, distributed evenly throughout the city in the 40+ parks situated within urban limits. This is certainly good news for locals and tourists alike, giving them ample opportunities to stretch out, relax and recreate while enjoying all the color and natural beauty that makes up Madrid’s landscape. To give you a better idea regarding some of the features and natural aspects associated with these “green zones,” below we have compiled a list highlighting some of the more important parks and gardens in Madrid, complete with a brief description of each. Parque Fuente del Berro photo credit
Parque del Retiro
Perhaps Madrid’s most popular and oft-visited park, the Parque del Retiro occupies nearly 300 acres (120 hectares) of total land space and is situated in the very heart of the city. This park originated as the gardens and retreat area for the Palace of the Buen Retiro, but in 1868, under a decree by the First Spanish Republic, it was opened to the public and remains so to this day. Abounding with shade trees, colorful shrubbery and grassy expanses, Parque del Retiro offers the perfect respite from the hot summer sun, with a number of unique features and characteristics. The large boating lake, for example, for which guests can rent rowboats for a small fee, provides the perfect backdrop for the outdoor shows and weekend street theaters performed along its banks, and the park’s Rosaleda, or rose garden, offers a splendor that simply has to be seen to fully appreciate. Also present in the Parque del Retiro is the Palacio de Cristal, a stunning glass exhibition hall built in the tradition of the old Crystal Palace in London.
The Casa de Campo
The Casa de Campo, which translates literally to the “Country House,” spans a whopping 1,722 hectares, making it one of the largest parks in Europe. This park traces its roots back to the 16th century, when Felipe II ordered the purchase of the Vargas’s country house. Over the years that followed, many estates and further grounds were added to the property—a property that would later assume the name “Royal Forest” under the reign of Fernando VI. Sadly, much of the Casa de Campo was destroyed during the Civil War, but since being handed over to the City Authorities in 1963 the restoration of the grounds has been nothing short of spectacular. Featuring a flora that includes ash groves, copses and majestic Mediterranean oaks, and a fauna of hundreds of varieties of small mammals and birds, the Casa de Campo is a must-see attraction for visitors touring Madrid. As a bonus, the park also plays host to Madrid’s zoo, an amusement park and impressive trade fair facilities.
Campo del Moro & the Sabatini Gardens
Belonging to the Royal Palace, these gardens were open to the public in 1978 under an order by then King Juan Carlos I.
Parque de la Fuente del Berro
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this 7.4 hectare park is the 1200 square meters of plant species that are easily recognizable to the blind due to their aroma and feel.
Situated next to the Museo del Prado, these gardens, which were inaugurated in 1781 by Carlos III, boast over 30,000 species of plants.
Other notable parks and green spaces worth checking out while you’re in Madrid include the Parque del Oeste, Madrid’s best landscaped park; the Parque de la Dehesa de la Villa; the Monte de El Pardo; and the Parque Enrique Tierno Galvin, a 54 hectare park at which you’ll also find Madrid’s Planetarium and an Imax 3-D cinema.