Nothing beats Sunday afternoon in Retiro Park. Situated behind the Prado museum, it is the most popular and widely visited park in Madrid. On a Sunday afternoon you will see Madrileños walking with their families in the park and being entertained by the multitude of street entertainers. Retiro is also a central meeting point for all sorts of people, from the roller skating youngsters and older men playing ‘petanca’ (boules) to football players and joggers of all ages.
The Retiro was originally built for the Spanish king Phillip IV and was opened to the general public in the 1800’s. As a result of its regal patronage it has many beautiful buildings. One of the most beautiful is the ‘Crystal Palace’, which is made entirely of glass; the others often put on exhibitions.
The central focus of the park is the large lake where you can go boating or simply laze around on its steps and listen to street entertainers perform. The park has a number of ‘terrazas’ (open air bars) where you can sip a beer or enjoy an ‘horchata’ (made from tiger nuts or almonds). A major road used to go through the park but is now only used for pedestrians, roller skaters and cyclists – once a year it hosts a huge book fair. Among the park’s numerous statues, there is one to the ‘Angel Caido’ – said to be the only statue in the world dedicated to a fallen angel.