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Natural Madrid


Introduction  


Madrid is surrounded by parks that "breathe" for the city. In each one of them, there are buildings and monuments which make them incomparable. The animal and plant species found within the parks makes the traveller feel like he or she is in a unique natural environment.

 
Route  

The route of "Natural Madrid" is quite scattered and ample. For this reason it is not advised to do it all in one day. It might be interesting to visit each one of the parks on one of the days that you visit Madrid; in this way a visit to a park would serve as a rest from the city life that you encounter the rest of the day.

The Casa de Campo is one of the favorite parks of Madridís citizens for fun and spreading out. In reality, it is a semi-urban zone that still conserves a large amount of plants and trees, which has served to give it its name of "el pulmón de Madrid" or "Madridís lung".

From the artificial lake that we find on its grounds, we can enjoy some of the best panoramic views of Madrid, even better if complemented by a ride on the cable car/ teleférico that runs from Paseo de Rosales to Casa de Campo. You can also contemplate the city at the Amusement park by going up on the ferris wheel or the shuttle launcher. Madrid becomes small just before enjoying a 60 meter free fall. The Zoological park is a joy with some 300 species of animals and one of the most important dolphin tanks of Europe.

In the fifties, the Feria Nacional de Campo compound was constructed and contains samples of regional architecture. Another of the interesting places to visit inside the Casa del Campo is the Venta de Batán, a small bull ring used to teach the art of bullfighting, or tauromaquia. Here, they also display bulls that later will go on to be fought in the bullfights of las Ventas.

El Parque del Oeste, situated next to the Ciudad Universitaria, enjoys 98 hectares of green space and marked character. In this Park one can visit monuments such as the Templo de Debod, dedicated to Amón and Isis, which was a gift from the Egyptian government for the work completed on the Asuan Dam. This temple was erected on top of the space that the Cuartel de la Montaña once occupied. Near it the Jardines de Ferraz are planted, which formed part of the park expansion.

The park contains spaces with grand personality, such as "la Tinaja", a one-time ceramic factory that still conserves the firing oven in form of an inverted earthen pot, or tinaja.

Near Príncipe Pío, a simple headstone is a memorial of the executions on 3 May, 1808.

During the regency of María Cristina de Hasburgo, the Campo del Moro was contructed in Madrid. The Campo are gardens similar to those of Versailles and take their name more from someone's imagination than from any historical fact. It was not called Campo del Moro until well into the 19th C. During the reign of Isabel II, the Los Tritones and La Conchas fountains were installed when the area was leveled, using the debris of the houses torn down during the renovation of the Puerta del Sol.

The Jardines (Gardens) de Sabatini were designed under the rule of Carlos III by Francisco de Sabatini, one of the most important architects of the era.

They were originally constructed as stables for the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), and in the '30s were remodeled in order to turn it into the park that it is today.

These gardens, which provide verdure to the gray of the stones of the Palacio Real, give the traveler an idea of the society of Bourbon Madrid.

Parque del Retiro

Without a doubt, the most emblematic example of a Madrid park is el Retiro, open space, culture in the open air and green lung of Madrid's city center, el Retiro is one of the most cosmopolitan places in the capital.

Parque del Retiro

When the Count Duke Olivares gave his estate "el Gallinero" as an addition to the lands of the monastery of los Jeronimos and to construct a site for his defender Felipe IV, the improvisations that have always been followed in the construction of this park began, and continued to grow, through additions according to the necessities of the courtesans.

El Estanque Grande (the Big Pond) has always be the core that has given life to the Park, dominated by the statue of Alfonso XII, this is the place where the people of Madrid prefer to spend their time, rowing in its boats, strolling along its shore or feeding its ducks.

Parque del Retiro

The footpaths throughout el Retiro are lined with comics, street vendors, musicians, and craftsmen who add a little joy to the park and earn a few coins from the passersby that enjoy their art.

With 118 hectars, the Park contains many monuments, from the Astronomic Observatory, to the Cason y Salon de Reinos (Kings House and Hall), the current Military Museum, to unique structures that are the remains of what was once the palace of Felipe IV.

During the reign of Fernando VII, small structures, called Caprichos (Whims), were erected, some of which still conserved: la Montaña de los Gatos or Cat Mountain (now used as an exhibition hall), la Casita del Pescador or the Fisherman's hut and the Sala del Contrabandista or the Smuggler's Hall, currently used as a party hall.

In the so-called Campo Grande (Big Field) important expositions are set up in places as lovely as the Velasquez Palace, a structure of iron, brick and crystal decorated with ceramics by Daniel Suloaga, or the Crystal Palace, constructed in 1987 by Ricardo Velasquez Bosco and conceived as a heater for the exhibition of the Philipines.

In addtion, sculptures are found in abundance in el Retiro; one of the most important of these is the Sculpture of the Angel Caido (Fallen Angel), by Ricardo Bellver, dedicated wholly to Lucifer. The Monument to Alfonso XII was conceived by Jose Grases i Riera and meant to be viewed from the inside. The Statue of General Martinez Campos is one of the most lovely works of Mariano Benlliure. And many other statues: Pio Baroja, Ramon de Campoanmore, the brothers Alvarez Quintero, among others.

Very near to el Retiro, one can find the Botanic Garden, declared Artistic Garden in 1942. Besides being an large fishpond in the center of Madrid, it is also a place of peace and calm for its inhabitants.

 
   
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