Parque del Buen Retiro


Buen Retiro means "the good retreat".  So named because in the 16th century the Royals used to go here for Christmas and Easter.  Later Philip III decided to build Royal Gardens here.  Note that many of the walks and plazas bear the names of Spanish speaking countries of the new world.  These include the Paseo Bolivia, the Paseo Venezuela, the Plaza de Nicaragua and the Plaza Panama.

On the east side of the map is Avenida Menédez y Pelayo.  Marcelino Menédez y Pelayo (1856 - 1912) was a famous Spanish historian.  His masterpiece was "Orígines de novela española".

Calle de Alfonso XII is on the west side of the park.  Alfonso XII (1857 - 1885) was king of Spain (1874 - 1885).  He was the son of Queen Isabella II.  He died of cholera in 1885.

To the North is the Calle de Alcalá.  In the top left-hand corner of the picture is the Plaza de La Independencia and the Puerta de Alcalá.

The Estanque (#10) located in the middle of the park is the original lake.  Here people rent rowboats and spend the afternoon lazily drifting about the lake.

The Palacio de Velázquez (#9) was built in 1884 to house the National Exhibition of Mining, Metal, Ceramics, Glass and Mineral Water industries.  Now it is used by the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to house temporary exhibits.

The Palacio de Cristal (#8) was built in 1887.  It was modeled after the Crystal Palace built in London.  It's original use was to display exotic plants during the Philippines Exhibition.  Now like the Palacio de Velázquez it is used by the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to house temporary exhibits.

El Angel Caído (The Fallen Angel) #7, is perhaps the most famous statue in the park.  It is Europe's only known statue of the devil.   

Some of the streets and puertas ("doors") in this area are:
Calle Poeta Esteban Villegas - Esteban Villegas (1589 - 1669) was a poet.
Paseo de Duque de Fernán Nuñez - May have been named after Carlos Francisco Fernán Nuñez (1778 - 1821) a Spanish nobleman and diplomat.
Puerta Murillo - Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 - 1682) was a famous painter.
Glorieta Pérez Galdos - Benito Pérez Galdos (1843 - 1920) was a Spanish novelist.   He wrote a number of historical novels.
Puerta Felipe IV - Felipe IV (1605 - 1665) was king of Spain (1621 - 1665).
Puerta de la Reina Mercedes - Dona Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans (1860 - 1878) was a very popular queen of Spain.  She married Alfonso XII, but died barely 6 months later.  Songs and poems have been written about her tragic life.
Puerta Sáinz de Baranda - May have been named after a former 19th century Mayor of Madrid. 

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