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Its origins date back to the seventeenth century when it was a property of the royal family. By the eighteenth century it opens its gates to regular citizens. It was during the war with France (1808-1812) that the palace that was located in the grounds was destroyed. Throughout the nineteenth century the park was given some important monuments and buildings, including:
- El Palacio de Cristal (The Crystal Palace). Located next to a beautiful lake it serves to house exhibitions.
- Palacio de Velázquez (Velazquez´s Palace). Under the Ministry of culture and is dedicated to temporary exhibitions of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
- Monumento a Alfonso XII (Monument to Alfonso XII). Sculptural complex located next to the pond.
- El Ángel Caído (The Fallen Angel). One of the few monuments in the world dedicated to the devil.
- Casa de las Fieras. Old zoo of Madrid which ran until 1972.
Also of interest are the Cecilio Rodríguez gardens, the Rose Garden, the Garden of the Absent and numerous sculptures scattered throughout the Park.
Access to the Park is easily accessible by bicycle, which is located quite centrally.
Park occupies an area of 118 acres and has forbidden the entrance to motorized vehicles, except police and auxiliary services.
There are several bicycle rental points in the vicinity of the Park, especially in the Menéndez Pelayo Street, which runs parallel to the Park. There are no bike rentals inside the Park.
To visit the main points of interest within the Park you will need 2 to 4 hours. The route is quite plain except for the final stretch of the Paseo de Duque Fernán Núñez that runs steeply.
There are no bicycle lanes, bikes circulate along with pedestrians and skaters. It is advisable not to exceed the 20 km per hour. The streets are paved, but many roads are dirt roads.
In addition of enjoying the century-old trees and monuments, the stroll around the park is an excellent chance to see the variety of the city’s residents. Walking by the pond, especially on weekends, we will find fortune readers, jugglers, street vendors… and if we get tired there is always a terrace near to rest.
The best: the more relaxed view of Madrid, a constant surprise for those who visit it for the first time, a unique Park.
The worst: there are no bike paths and we must share the trail with the pedestrians. In some crowded stretches it is advisable to get off of the bike.
27 Bikes http://www.27bikes.com/
In Bicycle we trust http://www.inbicyclewetrust.com/tiendas-bicicletas/madrid-retiro