By Sally Raven
Madrid is one of the most bustling and oft visited cities in Spain and there is certainly plenty to catch in terms of sightseeing – the Palacio Real, the Prado Museum, and of course, the Puerta del Sol in the city centre. Those who live in Spain’s capital, however, know that it is also a great city to chill out, as long as you know the perfect spots. If you’ve been reading the news, then you undoubtedly know that the big buzz in holidays this year is Nature – numerous studies have shown that simply taking a walk through a Nature-filled area lowers levels of dangerous stress hormones and promote a relaxed, mindful state. In this post we present you with some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Madrid, guaranteed to be as pleasing and beautiful to behold as the city’s most famous monuments.
THE PARQUE DEL RETIRO
This would have to be Spain’s most famous park alongside Barcelona’s Parque Güell. It spans some 125 hectares and boasts a collection of over 15,000 trees and a gorgeous lake for rowing or contemplating as the sun sets. The Retiro is home to two palaces
: the Velázquez and Glass palaces, both of which often house exciting exhibitions. Lovers of gardening will ooh and aah at the many gardens, which include the Rose Garden, the Perterre Francés (said to house the oldest tree in the city) and the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (featuring carefully manicured, Andalusian-style gardens). The park is also home to gorgeous pieces of art, including the statue of the fallen angel (one of the few sculptures in the world that idealize the devil), the Galápagos Fountain, and the romantic Casa del Contrabandista. Those who are sporty take note: there are running circuits for the fittest, and you can also hire a bicycle or boat.
THE ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
Designed by renowned architect, Francesco Sabatini, these gardens comprise 20 acres
, with over 30,000 plants (and 1,500 trees) from five continents. An exceptionally large number of species hail from the Philippines and South America. The classical romantic garden with its duck pond is the perfect place spot for couples seeking a romantic ambiance for a proposal or simply wanting to take in the beauty of the sensuously colored rose gardens.
THE GARDENS OF SABATINI
These gardens are part of the Royal Palace, so make sure to visit both during your stay in Madrid. They offer dazzling views of the palace itself but also make the perfect spot for resting and contemplating the verdant surrounds, after a busy day of sightseeing. The Gardens were opened to the public by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, in 1978. They pay homage to Italian architect, Francesco Sabatini, who designed specific parts of the palace, including the royal stables.
MONTE DEL PARDO
If you’ve hired a car, then it is worth taking a small trip to the outskirts of Madrid to catch this natural park, which is home to many indigenous animal species. Although it was once a royal poaching ground, it is now a protected area where deer, wild boar and foxes live. It is also home to a total of 120 different types of trees.
JUAN CARLOS PARK
Cyclists take note: this park has been designed especially for you
! In addition to renting a bike, you can also spend a fun day out by simply having a picnic by the river bank, taking part in fun workshops or honing your skills at canoeing. The park occupies a space of around 160 hectares and is home to a 30,000m2
lake. It is graced by gorgeous modern sculptures, and an auditorium for concerts and other events.
Measuring over 1,722 hectares, this park is the largest in Spain. It has many green areas for relaxation, as well as areas for tennis, swimming, canoeing, cycling and more. The park used to be a hunting estate, since it is an extension of the Monte del Pardo forest area. Today, it provides entertainment to countless families, with its zoo, amusement park and cable car ride. In the summer, this park hosts a series of fun events, including concerts and sporting events. The zoo is home to animals from all the continents and also contains a sizeable aquarium.