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Estanque del Retiro

An impressive artificial lake that complements The Monument to Alfonso XII in Buen Retiro Park.

TravelCurious Tip

Keep an eye out for fish, crabs and terrapins in the lake - its most famous denizen was the 12-kilogram carp Margarita, and there are still some impressive specimens today.

Renaissance lake

Estanque del Retiro was added to Buen Retiro Park as part of improvements commissioned in the 1630s by the Count-Duke of Olivares, who was constructing the Palace of Buen Retiro at the time. The palace complex and gardens were a controversial and expensive project, contradicting the Count-Duke’s own austerity measures: what remains today is the legacy of a brash and ultimately unsuccessful political figure.

Olivares recruited the Florentine engineer and scenographer Cosimo Lotti to redesign the gardens in Italianate style. Lotti fashioned the park that was hailed as a wonder of the Spanish Renaissance: the spectacular lake, as well as a number of fountains and a great canal, were born of a dramatic impulse. Lotti was talented at theatrical effects, impressing the king so much that he was made organiser of the theatre at the Palace. In its heyday, the lake was used for mock sea-battles and other aquatic spectacles.

The lake today can be enjoyed by boat: canoes are available for 45-minute hire, and if that’s too much exertion you can also take a ten-minute circuit on a solar-powered craft. Encircling one end is the Monument to King Alfonso XII.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Madrid
Buen Retiro Park
The green heart of Madrid, hosting an array of gardens and monuments.
Monument to Alfonso XII
An equestrian statue of the monarch in the centre of Buen Retiro Park, offering the best view over the lake.
Casón del Buen Retiro
One of two remaining 17th-century buildings in Buen Retiro Park, the Casón is home to a famous fresco.
Palacio de Cristal
The extraordinary glass and iron palace built to display the flora of the Philippines in 1887.
Palacio de Velázquez
This beautiful neoclassical building is an exhibition hall located in Buen Retiro Park.
San Jerónimo el Real
A 16th century Roman Catholic church with royal connections, now used by the Prado Museum.

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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