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The Retiro Park, 3 essential places with magic and history.

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

When you visit the Parque del Retiro there are three places that you cannot miss, the Estanque Grande, the statue of the Fallen Angel and the Crystal Palace. The current Madrid tour of www.spain-walkingtours.com ends in this park so that you can take a pleasant walk through the park and finish with some “cañas” of beer and some “tapas” in the nearby Menéndez Pelayo avenue , in front of the park.

Angel Caído, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

"Angel Caido" the "fallen Angel"

The statue of the Fallen Angel is on the site of the old Chinese ceramics factory, which was destroyed in 1813 during the War of Independence. The history of this statue dates back to 1878, when its author Ricardo Bellver won the First Class Medal with it at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, held in Madrid. The work is inspired by some verses by John Milton from his work "Paradise Lost":


"Because of his pride, he is thrown from heaven with all his host of rebellious angels, never to return to him" (John Milton)


The sculpture occupies its current place since 1880. As a curiosity, the height of the place is 666 meters above sea level, this coincidence with the so-called "number of the beast" and the false belief that the statue is a monument to Lucifer has awakened the statue's appeal to lovers of the esoteric. In the world there are three other statues of the Fallen Angel or rebel angel, one in Turin (Italy), another in Quito (Ecuador) and in the National Capitol in Havana (Cuba).


Estanque Grande, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

"Estanque Grande"

The second point that you cannot miss in this park is the Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro, known simply as the Estanque del Retiro. Its origin dates back to the 17th century, it was built in an environment of palaces and gardens promoted by the Count-Duke of Olivares for the enjoyment of King Felipe IV. The pond had a playful function, but also the function of guaranteeing the supply of water to the nearby palaces, fountains and gardens.


In the time of Felipe IV, the pond and its surroundings were staged plays that included simulated naval battles with ships in the pond and fireworks.


In the 20th century, the appearance of the Estanque Grande changed again due to the construction of the Monument to the Spanish Homeland, better known as a monument to King Alfonso XII, because in the monument, in front of the pond, this king appears mounted on horseback on a column of a great size. Through the column you can access a viewpoint located under the statue of the king.

Palacio de Cristal, Parque de El Retiro Madrid, Spain

Crystal Palace in El Retiro

Finally, in the park we find the Palacio de Cristal, which is an impressive steel and glass structure that was originally intended to be a greenhouse for tropical plants. It was built in 1887 for the Flora Exhibition of the Philippine Islands and is inspired by the Cristal Palace in Hyde Park in London.


It is currently part of the Reina Sofía museum and inside we find wonderful contemporary art exhibitions.

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