Retiro Park is the largest green area in Madrid, with vast areas of gardens, green zones, trees, flower areas and artificial lakes.
It is one of the areas most appreciated by the people of Madrid. At any time day or night, there are always people walking around, running or skating. On the weekends the park is teeming with artists playing music, jugglers, and human statues. On sunny days rent a boat to relax for a while on the lake.
In 1630 the count-duke of Olivares, the minister and royal favorite of King Philip IV, gave a large amount of land adjacent to the monastery governed by the religious order of the Jeronimos for the enjoyment of the king. Several buildings were constructed: The Retiro Theater where plays from the Spanish Golden Age were staged; and the Big House, where court dances were held.
Cages for wild animals were located in the garden, and battles were staged on the artificial lakes. New areas were then added to the park, like the porcelain factory or the astronomical observatory.
Until King Carlos III opened the park, it was closed to the people of Madrid. People were allowed access only under strict rules for behavior and dress.
During the French invasion, the park was almost destroyed due to French troops using it as for barracks and weapon warehouses. Once the war was over King Fernando VII opened the park again.
In 1868 the park was transferred to city hall which built the Crystal Palace, the rose garden, the path of statues, the Fallen Angel statue, and the Artichoke Fountain.
Click on the following link to find more about Retiro Park.