To see madrileños at their most relaxed, spend a Sunday among the families in Parque del Retiro. Originally a playground for the Spanish monarchs, it became a public park at the end of the 19th century. It covers 140 hectares (346 acres) of lawns, lakes, and woodland, but most of the main attractions are close to the central pathway, best accessed next to the triumphal gate, Puerta de Alcalá. The park offers gentle recreational activities for everyone—whether they want to watch puppet shows or tango dancers, practice tai chi, play cards or chess, consult a fortune teller, rent rowboats on the lake where Felipe IV used to stage mock naval battles, or just lounge on the grass. From May through September, there are free concerts at the bandstand at the north end of the park on Sundays at noon. Visitors can also enjoy contemporary art: The Reina Sofía museum mounts large-scale exhibitions in two grand pavilions constructed for the 1887 Philippines Exposition, the Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velázquez. At the south end of the park is the Fuente del Ángel Caído (Fountain of the Fallen Angel), thought to be Spain’s only public monument depicting Satan, and to the west, surrounded by a moat, is the Forest of Remembrance for the 191 victims of the 2004 terror attack at nearby Atocha station.
Parque del Retiro
Our Rating Hours Apr–Sept 6am–midnight; Oct–Mar 6am–10pm. Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velázquez Apr–Sept daily 11am–9pm; Oct–Mar daily 10am–6pm. Transportation Metro: Retiro. Bus: 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 26, 28, 32, 51, 52, 61, 63, 74, 146, 152, 202, C1, or C2 Prices Free admission Web site Parque del Retiro
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.