June 14th, 2012
Are you enjoying the European Cup football tournament as much as I am? At least I shall until later on tonight when we will know the result of Ireland v Spain! I live in faint hope…
After tonight I may instead choose to spend match times in the garden – not a bad place to be whether you´re avoiding the TV or not! And Spain has much to offer in the way of formal gardens and parks to spend some time. Going to Madrid this year? Then take in the gardens…!
What to do whilst there? Museums? … unmissable. Theatre?…terrific. Galleries?…great. Shopping?…super!
Madrid has it all for a city break, whether you choose a weekend or a week…After all the pavement pounding you might want to relax with a stroll somewhere nice, surround yourself with some greenery (someone say Ireland again?!) and take a break from the traffic of the city.
What better way than to explore the formal gardens and pleasant parks, open to the public and the perfect antidote to the city´s Summer heat.
*All except the Botanical Gardens are also FREE to get in, another bonus!
Go to the Park
Parque del Buen Retiro is a must see when you visit Madrid.
A romantic break in Madrid would be incomplete without a visit here. An amazing sensation of space and light after the madness of the city – not least due to the sheer size of the place – over 290 acres of parkland. Wooded areas, rose gardens, a a lake on which to boat, fountains galore, a zoo – our kids loved it – and in the Summer months, plenty of live entertainment in the way of jugglers, stilt walkers, mime artists and of course, the Madrileños, a show in itself to watch how the paseo is really done with style! A park for all seasons, walking in the snow at Christmastime, leaf change in Autumn and blossom in Spring …
- Where is it? City centre, with 5 entrance gates.
- When? Open all year, at all times.
What about a tropical oasis? In the train station? Yes,really!
The old Atocha station - Estación de Atocha – to be precise, which was designed and built from iron and glass – the perfect greenhouse!
Raised beds and swaying palms make the perfect tropical oasis – enjoy a coffee and a cake at the former station, and expect to see a variety of plantlife from Coconut palms, Bamboo, Fig and other plants that are happiest in this humid location.
- Where is it? Metro Atocha, Plaza del Emperador Carlos V.
- When? Open all year, 07:00 – 23:30
If you really want to let loose and crave space then head out of the city a little way. Close to the airport you will find the wonderful Parque Juan Carlos I, a modern sculpture filled outdoor area of 544 acres.
Water features, large exhibits of modern sculpture, swathes of green lawn, and the feeling of space and fresh air bring the crowds in from Madrid on the weekend. Admire the modern feel to the place ,bring a picnic and spend some time here, remember to visit the Jardín de las Tres Culturas situated in the middle of the park – which celebrates the three cultures that have made up the history of Spain over the centuries – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
- Where is it? Close to the airport, and to the permanent Trade fair Centre.
- When? Open all year, dawn to dusk.
Smell the roses
You can indeed smell and see the roses at the Parque del Oeste. As the name suggests, it´s on the West of the city, 242 acres of Elm and Horse Chestnut compete with one of the best Rose Gardens in Europe. During the Civil War the park was stormed and lost much of the original planting but the sea of modern Roses make up for that today. Look out for the 4th century Egyptian Temple - Templo de Debod - which was given to Spain as a thank you to the engineers that worked on the Aswan Dam.
- Where is it? West of the city centre
- When? Open all year, dawn to dusk.
One´s back yard
A little bit posher, now, and the back garden of the King is our next stop. El Campo del Moro to be precise, or the Field of the Moor. Totaling 50 or so acres transformed from a hunting ground by Isabel II back in the 1800´s. The name comes from a Moorish Army that camped out here in the early 12th Century. Fountains, Camelias, woodlands and sweeping lawns are the perfect backdrop for the right Royal residence….look up the lawns and you´ll see the Palacio Real.
- Where is it? West of the Old Quarter of Madrid
- When? Open all year, 10:00 – 20:00 in Summer, 10:00 - 18:00 Winter. Closed whenever there is a Royal reception or function at the Palace – unless you already have an invite that is!
Royal Botanical Garden
Staying with the Royal connection, trot along to the Botanical Garden – Real Jardín Botánico – the only one on this list where there is an admission fee. The architect responsible for the Prado collaborated with the King´s own in – house guy to come up with this historical garden and it was officially opened in 1781.
Planted uniformly, scientists travel from all corners of the globe to see the plant species here,many of which are important and of great interest. However, there´s no reason why it can´t also be enjoyed just for what it is – a large area of immense beauty, well planted and carefully divided into specific areas. Staircases, water features and fountains, tree lined walkways and floral archways will all compete for your attention and convince you to stay a little longer than planned!
Imagine the scent of delicate fragranced Jasmine and Rose, and a relaxing air will transport your mind and body to a tranquil place – perfect for relaxing after that mad week in Madrid!
- Where is it? South of the Prado, Metro Atocha, Plaza de Murillo 2.
- When? Open all year everyday 10:00 – 21:00 in Summer and closing at 18:00 in Winter.
As always, just a taster, there are lots more parks and gardens in which to wander in and around Madrid – take your time and discover more….there´s always something to see or do in Spain´s capital city!