It was the year 1629 when in Spain Philip IV reigned, of who they say that he had around forty or fifty children, at least. The Count-Duke of Olivares handled the government affairs, and he came up with the idea of taking advantage of a wooded area on the outskirts of the town, to build a Palace in which the King and his court could spend their time listening to the birds singing.
And so this Palace called the Buen Retiro, which means Good Retreat, was not for directing or governing, but for recreation and rest for his majesty. Surrounding the Palace, gardens were created in which as well as in the building, there was a lot of improvisation. Apparently, the Count-Duke was always in such a hurry that planning things seemed to make him lose his valuable time.
The fact is that it was an excellent place for the royalty to have fun riding horses, hunting and having parties in the gardens and surrounding forests. This would last for more than two hundred years, although in the eighteenth century some changes were already made thanks to the renewed and enlightened anxieties of Charles III. He gave the place a lift, and he even allowed the entrance of the public, with certain limits and of course, as long as the rules of dress code were kept. And so, this way is how it began to look like an urban park.
But during the War of Independence, Napoleon’s troops camped in El Retiro, and they spent their spare time destroying and ruining everything, but it is also true that José Bonaparte, the very brother, allowed the people of Madrid to have free access to the park. When Ferdinand VII returned, he kept one part open to the public and reserved another for his royal walks, this was known, precisely, as El Reservado, meaning The Reserve.
The Revolution of 1868 had to arrive in order for El Retiro to become the property of the municipality of Madrid and now entirely a public park. During the following years, they undertook a lot of works that added great doors, ponds and fountains like the famous and morbid of the Fallen Angel, placed in 1885. One of the very few monuments dedicated to the Devil that exist in the world. And that by the way, coincidence or not, is at an altitude of 666 meters above sea level.
Although the tribute to Lucifer has taken all the fame, the park keeps many other things to see, such as the Crystal Palace, the monument to Alfonso XII in the Big Pond, the Royal Observatory, the Fisherman's House or the Gate of Philip IV.
So, go on and take an exciting and healthy walk!