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Casón del Buen Retiro

One of two remaining 17th-century buildings in Buen Retiro Park, the Casón is home to a famous fresco.

TravelCurious Tip

See if you can spot all of the animals of the Zodiac in the fresco’s celestial sphere...

Saved by the ceiling

Most of the Buen Retiro Palace complex was destroyed between 1808 and 1814 in the First Peninsular War, during which the invading French army made it their headquarters; much was also demolished with the construction of the Jerónimos district in the 19th century. What remains today in Buen Retiro Park bears little resemblance to the original design of the gardens, and comprises only half the space; the two surviving buildings, Casón del Buen Retiro and Salón de Reinos (Hall of the Kingdoms) are now both annexes of the Prado Museum.

The Casón’s ceiling may be what saved it from the demolition that claimed so many of the palace buildings. It comprises The Allegory of the Golden Fleece, a fresco by the Neapolitan artist Luca Giordano, which is considered one of the Prado’s great masterpieces. Completed around 1697, the composition celebrates the Spanish Monarchy in its allegorical depiction of the founding of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which was established by the Duke of Burgundy and brought to Spain by Charles I.

Many other artworks have passed through: the Casón was the Museum of Artistic Reproductions from 1877 to 1960; the Prado’s 19th century paintings were held there from 1971 to 1981; from 1981 to 1992 it held Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica (now in the Reina Sofia), which attracted around one million visitors during its time here. Today the Prado’s library is held on the ground floor: a reading room of around 70,000 books serves the students of the Escuela de Prado, researchers and museum staff.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Madrid
Buen Retiro Park
The green heart of Madrid, hosting an array of gardens and monuments.
San Jerónimo el Real
A 16th century Roman Catholic church with royal connections, now used by the Prado Museum.
Prado Museum
Spain's premier art museum, with a treasure trove of works dating as far back as the 12th century.
Las Meninas by Velázquez
This enigmatic painting is one of the crown jewels of the Prado collection.
Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet
An incredible representation by Tintoretto of the events before the Last Supper.
The Garden of Earthly Delights
An astounding triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, portraying fantastical crowds of people and monsters in a warning against temptation.

Related Tours

Madrid's Private Half Day Highlights with skip-the-line Prado tickets
This four hour tour will introduce you to the lives of some of the most influential artists of Europe, followed by a memorable walk around the stunning Buen Retiro Park. 

  • Commence your tour at the Prado Museum
  • Take in the phenomenal architecture and masterpieces.
  • Learn about major art movements. 
  • Re-fuel with a swift coffee break.
  • Cruise through Buen Retiro Park.
  • Snap pictures of the Monument to Alfonso XII and el Casón del Buen Retiro building.
  • Marvel at the architecture of the Church of San Jeronimos.
The Very Best of Art and Culture

You will begin your tour at the Spanish national art museum: the Prado Museum. Founded in 1819, it is well worth a visit just for its stunning neoclassical architecture, let alone its impressive collection of some 8,000 paintings and many beautiful sculptures, drawings and prints. Here, your expert guide will endeavour to shed some light on the major art movements you will see in the museum, including the Renaissance and Baroque. 

You will also learn about the fascinating social and cultural background of some of the most iconic paintings house in the museum, such as the Spanish masterpiece Las Meninas by Velazquez; Artwork by Fran Angelico, gifted creator of The Annunciation; Christ Washing the Disciple’s feet by Tintoretto, and masterpieces by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. 

Sublime Walk

After a well deserved coffee break, you will head over to the fabulous Buen Retiro Park, where your guide will walk you through its rich history, traced back to Isabella I (1505). You will notice stunning sights such as the artificial lake that complements the impressive Monument to Alfonso XII, and el Casón del Buen Retiro building; one of two remaining 17th century additions to the park and former home of King Philip IV. 

Well worth a visit, this is now a museum housing an incredible collection of 19th and 20th century paintings, including work by the Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla. You will also have the opportunity to visit the absolutely beautiful Church of San Jeronimos; and the crowning place of King Juan Carlos in 1975.
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