Starting at Cibeles Plaza, this 2,2 Miles (3.54 Kms.) Walking Tour, will take us to see:
- (A) Cibeles Plaza
- (B) Alcalá Gate
- (C) Estanque del Retiro (Retiro Pond)
- (D) Alfonso XII Monument
- (E) Crystal Palace
- Fountains and Gardens at El Retiro
- (F) El Prado Museum
- (G) Neptuno Plaza
- (H) Paseo del Prado
Tour Starts at La Cibeles Plaza
For this walking tour, we will start at Cibeles and walk towards the east, to Puerta de Alcala, which is the main entrance to El Retiro Park.
From this point, looking to the west, will be the next photo of Cibeles Plaza:
We will start walking to the east, and 200 yards away we can have the following view of Cibeles Plaza and further is the Metropolis building that is where Alcala St. and Gran Via intersect.
Puerta de Alcalá, (Alcala Gate)
The Puerta de Alcala (Alcala Gate) is a monument in the Plaza de la Independencia (“Independence Square”), which is on the northwest part of El Retiro Park, on its main entrance.
Francisco Sabatini created the monument in 1778 for king Carlos III.
Madrid on the 18th Century still remained surrounded by medieval walls, so king Carlos III commissioned Sabatini to build the monumental gate, where a road that would go from Madrid to the city of Alcalá, was to pass.
Retiro Park Pond and Monument
The monument to King Alfonso XII, is a sculpture located at the east side of the pond, near the center of the Retiro Park. The monument, funded by public subscription, was inaugurated on June 6, 1922.
It is composed of a large colonnade with large number of sculptures that surround the equestrian statue of the King, all in bronze and marble. The entire assembly is 30 meters high, 86 meters long and 58 meters wide.
Crystal Palace – Retiro Park
The Crystal Palace Retiro is a metal and glass structure located in the Retiro Park in Madrid. It was built in 1887 by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, for the Philippines Exhibition, held that year. Its construction project was inspired by the Crystal Palace, built in London in 1851 by Joseph Paxton.
El Palacio de Cristal, is currently co-managed by Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Municipality), and Reina Sofia Museum. It is very often used for contemporary art exhibitions.
You can see more information, and photos of the Retiro Park Crystal Palace, here.
Fountain In Retiro Park
Retiro Park has many beautiful sculptures and fountains, and this one called La Alcachofa (artichoke) was designed by Ventura Rodríguez and decorated with sculptures by Alfonso Giraldo Bergaz, and Antonio Primo.
It was built in 1781 and located close to Puerta de Atocha. It was transferred in 1880 to its present location in the southwest corner of the Retiro pond.
Following the reform of the Glorieta de Atocha, a bronze reproduction of this original, has been placed there, as you can see on the photo:
Retiro Park Parterre Garden
French style garden, that has just a few variations from the original eighteenth century garden, created by Felipe V, on the old garden, built by Felipe IV.
It is rectangular with semicircular head, and a central corridor, remembering the floor plan design of a Gothic cathedral.
Casón Del Buen Retiro
Just outside one of the gates of El Retiro Park, we get this building, right in front of us.
El Casón del Buen Retiro, is one the two buildings that survived the destruction of the Buen Retiro Palace. Built in 1637 by Alonso Carbonell, it was initially designed as a ballroom space for the Court of Felipe IV.
Since 1971 is one of the buildings that make up the Prado Museum. For decades his building has housed 3000 masterpieces of nineteenth-century painting, and Picasso’s Guernica. This famous painting was moved to the Museo Reina Sofia in 1992, and the 19th Century collection has been relocated at Rafael Moneo’s expansion of the Prado Museum.
Moneo’s Cube – El Prado Museum
This is the back (at the east), of the Prado Museum. It is the newly built part (2007), with the back of the original building at your left, and the new Moneo Cube or Los Jerónimos building, to the right of the church with the same name.
A better view of the Moneo Cube:
The project of architect Rafael Moneo, for the expansion of the Prado Museum, was completed in the year 2007. Moneo’s Cube, is a separate building that did not involve any substantial changes to the El Prado’s Villanueva Building, that has nearly 200 years of history.
The two buildings, are connected by a passage way as shown in the next photo:
The connection between the two buildings is underground (on the Jerónimos Building or Cube), because it takes advantage and covers the gap between The Jeronimos Monastery (Calle Ruiz de Alarcon) and the Paseo del Prado.
This extension was finished on April 27, 2007, although the official opening took place six months later, on October 30, with a temporary exhibition of the most significant pieces of nineteenth century Spanish painting collection, which had been stored for ten years on the neaby Cason del Buen Retiro.
El Prado Museum in Madrid, is one of the largest in the world, and one of the most visited (the eleventh in 2010) .
Singularly rich in paintings by European masters from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, with a large presence of Velázquez, El Greco, Goya, Titian, Rubens and Bosch. Also must be added featured authors as important as Murillo, Ribera, Zurbarán, Raphael, Veronese, Tintoretto, Van Dyck, to only name the most relevant .
Due to the limitations of space, the museum exhibited a selection of works of the highest quality (900), so it was defined as “the highest concentration of masterpieces per square meter.”
With the extension added by the architect Rafael Moneo, was predicted to grow by 50%, with some 450 works more, out of an inventory of more than 8.600.
Besides the paintings, El Prado has about 950 sculptures, 6,400 drawings, 2,400 prints, 800 decorative arts objects, 900 coins and 800 medals.
Plaza Neptuno Fountain
Neoclassical marble sculpture, from the second half of XVIII, was part of the idea of King Carlos III to modernize the city of Madrid. This modernization plan included the placement of emblematic monuments.
It’s the meeting point of the Atlético de Madrid football team, when they win important games and titles.
It is very well situated in the middle of two great Hotels, The Ritz and The Palace, very close to, Museums and Retiro Park.
Royal Botanical Garden Of Madrid
The Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, is a research center of the National Research Council. Founded on October 17, 1755 by King Fernando VI near the River Manzanares. It was Carlos III who ordered to move it to its current location on the Paseo del Prado in 1781.
This botanical garden is arranged in three different levels of terraces, that have plants from America and the Pacific, as well as European.
Paseo del Prado Garden
Paseo del Prado, is the prolongation of La Castellana, which runs North – South, from Plaza de Cibeles to Atocha, and where the Golden Triangle of Art, with its three most important museums are located: El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía.
This densely tree-lined garden in the middle of the boulevard, is an important attraction for Madrilians and visitors.