Madrid's main park, El Parque de Retiro, is certainly one of the city's main tourist attractions and the main entrance to the park is situated right next to the Puerta de Alcalá, (The door of Alcalà), Retiro Park is the perfect place for a stroll. Very pleasing to the eye, you will see many sculptures, monuments, and a beautiful boating lake, it also presents an annual book fair, and there are free concerts and plenty of shows also for kids throughout the summer.
The gardens are beautifully kept, constantly preened and looked after, an abundance of trees; nature at its very best has been so carefully nurtured here. You could easily stroll in the park around the 1.4 Km2 (350 acres) of pristine tranquility, within a park at the city center for many hours or pass the time away in the most relaxing and rewarding way, with the incredible view of the large boating lake, full of fish. At the opposite end of the boating lake you will see the massive monument of King Alfonso XII on horseback looking over the park.
In 1505, at the time of Isabella I, the royal family had a retreat built. King Philip II (1556–1598), had the Retiro enlarged by his architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and paths of trees were laid out.
The gardens were extended in the 1620s, when Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, Philip IV's powerful favorite, gave the king several pieces of land nearby for recreational use.
Retiro Park, is the largest park in Madrid. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it was handed over to the public for their use.
Since the late 19th century, the Retiro Park, "Parque del Retiro" has been used for many international exhibitions. several buildings have remained intact, including the Velázquez Palace (1884) by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, and the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal), a glass pavilion inspired by The Crystal Palace in London, undoubtedly the park's' most extraordinary building. Built along with its artificial pond in 1887 by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco to house the Philippine Islands Exhibitions, it was first used to display flower species that needed to be kept in a constant high temperature.
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