The Lungs of Madrid


On Monday, Alex and Bill (our friend from New York) took a day to ride around on the Madrid Metro, and I spent the day exploring the Parque del Buen Retiro, which is commonly known as the lungs of Madrid.  The 350 acre park is a lovely place to walk and people watch, with lots of benches and lovely grassy areas for picnics. I saw a ton of people out and about enjoying the lovely weather. Luckily it was only 30 degrees, so I didn’t broil too much.

There were several musicians in the park, and each would stay in one place for about 30 minutes, and then they would all rotate around. I think I kept running into the same trumpet player, because by the end of the afternoon he started laughing when he saw me!  They played a number of pieces, but my favorite to hear was the second movement of the Concerto Aranjuez by Rodrigo. I wish we’d had time to go to Aranjuez, which lies about 30 minutes outside of Madrid, but we’ll just have to go back for that!

The park has several lakes, including one that you can boat on. I might have been tempted to pick up a paddle, but the sun was quite strong and the lake had no shade!  The other lake in the park was full of turtles and fish, and was behind the Crystal Palace. (Yes, it was built based on the design of the famous Crystal Palace in London!)

One of my favorite places in the park was the Rosaleda, which is the rose garden. I was quite surprised to see all the roses in bloom, but I guess the season in Spain runs a bit later than in New York. I can’t even begin to describe how lovely the garden was, especially with the scent of roses on the air. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it — sorry!

I greatly enjoyed how lush the park appeared, even though I’m sure it takes a massive irrigation effort to maintain all the plants. Madrid can be very hot and dry, with an intense sun, so the shade provided by trees is double appreciated. There were parts of the park that were quite manicured — in the grand European Garden tradition, but there were other parts that were almost wild, with tracks leading between the trees.

After two very busy days of running around and seeing all the sights, I personally appreciated a bit of a quiet day. I was able to read some, and people watch, and walk through the park almost all day.  I believe that spaces like this are so important to have in the city, and that the Parque del Retiro truly deserves to be called the lungs of Madrid!  This is where you can come and breathe!

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Posted on 10/06/2010, in travel, Travel to Europe and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Yes ! The irrigation must be quite extensive, judging from what looks as if the trees grow straight out of the concrete .. I know there are grids around the base of the trunks, but it sure looks funny

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