Buen Retiro Park

The Buen Retiro Park (Spanish: Parque del Buen Retiro) is one of the largest parks of the city of Madrid, Spain. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park.

The Buen Retiro Park is a large and popular 1.4 km2 (350 acres) park at the edge of the city center, very close to the Puerta de Alcalá and not far from the Prado Museum. A magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculpture and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and host to a variety of events, it is one of Madrid's premier attractions. The park is entirely surrounded by the present-day city.

Close to the northern entrance of the park is the Estanque del Retiro ("Retiro Pond"), a large artificial pond. Next to it is the monument to King Alfonso XII, featuring a semicircular colonnade and an equestrian statue of the monarch on the top of a tall central core.

The Rosaleda rose garden. Among the many rose bushes of all kinds stands the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, erected in 1922, whose main sculpture El Angel Caído (at the top) is a work by Ricardo Bellver (1845–1924) inspired by a passage from John Milton's Paradise Lost, which represents Lucifer falling from Heaven. It is claimed that this statue is the only known public monument of Satan.

The few remaining buildings of the Buen Retiro Palace, including Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salon de Reinos, now house museum collections. The Casón has a collection of 19th- and 20th-century paintings, including art by the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. The Ejército, one of Spain's foremost Army museums, has moved to Toledo.

Since assuming its role as a public park the late 19th century, the "Parque del Retiro" has been used as a venue for various international exhibitions. Several emblematic buildings have remained as testimony to such events, including the Mining building, popularly known as the Velázquez Palace (1884) by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, who also designed the Palacio de Cristal ("Crystal Palace"), a glass pavilion inspired by The Crystal Palace in London, undoubtedly the gardens' most extraordinary building. Built along with its artificial pond in 1887 for the Philippine Islands Exhibitions, the Palacio de Cristal was first used to display flower species indigenous to the archipelago. The landscape-style gardens located in the former "Campo Grande" are also a reminder of the international exhibitions that have taken place here in the past.

The Paseo de la Argentina, also popularly known as Paseo de las Estatuas ("Statue Walk"), is decorated with some of the statues of kings from the Royal Palace, sculpted between 1750 and 1753.

There are now art galleries in the Crystal Palace, Palacio de Velázquez, and Casa de Vacas.

In the Retiro Park is also the Forest of Remembrance (Bosque del recuerdo), a memorial monument to commemorate the 191 victims of the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks.

From late May through early October, every Sunday at midday, the Banda Sinfónica de Madrid gives free concerts from the bandstand in the park near the Calle de Alcalá. Manuel Lillo Torregrosa composed 'Kiosko del Retiro' to this bandstand.

The Park also features an annual Book Fair. Not only is there an annual book fair, but shelves for used books where people will drop off their used books, magazines, or newspapers. There are events throughout the year such as concerts, firework shows, and holiday/cultural events.

There is also an outdoor exercising area for both the old and the young. While the older one includes equipment to stretch keep arthritis in check and the elderly active like bicycle pedals. The younger portion includes bars for tricep dips, pull-ups, sit-ups, and locals have brought bigger stones to use as weights.

Around the lake, Retiro Pond, many puppet shows perform, and all manner of street performers and fortune tellers. Rowboats can be rented to paddle about the Estanque, and horse-drawn carriages are available. If rowing is not your forte there is a solar powered boat you can book passage on.

Retiro provides multiple different sports courts that are managed by the city.

For children there are multiple playground areas as well as ponds throughout the park with ducks you can feed. The inside of the Palacio de Cristal has been modified to include the edition of a stone slide in the interior.

People often come and have picnics or Botellón. Botellón may be a prohibited activity, but it is typically overlooked by the authorities. The major paths and walkways are used by runners,bikers, and rollerbladers.