cerebral museum

Pleasant Retreat

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on August 22, 2009

I came here expecting to fall in love with the city immediately. I am obsessed with the light, the relaxation, the language, but this has been a completely different experience. There are a few places that I feel it fully. The rest I feel will take time to develop. One of these places is the Retiro. I live about ten blocks north of it, and have already spent many an evening laying in the grass, sitting on the steps of the palace, and watching the row boats on the lake. Being at the park doesn’t feel real, rather like a scene from an old novel.

next to the lake during a late sunset. 930pm

next to the lake during a late sunset. 930pm

Fully titled, El Parque del Buen Retiro (directly translated: the park of the pleasant retreat) was originally created just outside the city boundaries and its origins date back to the sixteenth century during the reign of Felipe II. It has been said that the Retiro is probably the last great creation of the Renaissance in Spain and was at the centre of the Habsburg court when Spain was the world’s only superpower.

in the massive rose garden

in the massive rose garden

The park is made up of shady paths and lawns, no lack of trees, a rose garden, El Palacio de Cristales (crystal palace), a rectangular lake for rowboats with a huge statue tribute to a Spanish king, a large sculptured garden of topiaries and fountains, and is filled with sculptures, fountains, and terraces.

El Palacio de Cristales

El Palacio de Cristales

My first trip was after a visit to the Prado (the land which the park was created on was originally a meadow, which translates to ‘prado’ in spanish). I asked a worker at the Prado a bit about the park and he told me that the original palace was destroyed, as was the zoo, during the French occupation by Napoleon.

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What’s left is part practical, part whimsical. At one end, there’s a small mountain with a waterfall and white water rapids down the side. My favorite part, el Palacio de Cristales, is a bit further back and hidden by a large grove of trees.

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It was built in 1887 by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, used to house Phillipine plants (?), and now houses a weird little ongoing art exhibit that consists of two creepy musty stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling.

the exhibit is titled 'are animals people?' ...deep.

the exhibit is titled 'are animals people?' ...deep.

Best public park I’ve ever been to, hands down. A few more photos:

DSC_0173DSC_0188Hasta luego!

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