The Palacio de Cristal in El Retiro Park.
The Palacio de Cristal or Crystal Palace, caught my eye before we visited Madrid. I saw photos on the Internet of this exquisite crystal building and wanted to visit it. An impressive structure made from glass and metal. Strategically located in the the middle of the El Retiro Park in Madrid and modeled on London’s Crystal Palace. Built 36 years after the original building in London.
My first thoughts were: “Look how modern this building looks!”. Taken into account that it was build in 1887!
A magnificent building set in a peaceful environment.
The Palacio de Cristal is constructed in the shape of a Greek cross and built exclusively from glass and metal. The domed roofs makes the structure almost 22 metres high! Originally built to house exotic flora and fauna from the Philippines. You might wonder why the Philippines but remember they used to be a Spanish colony back in this day.
The El Retiro park to this day boasts many exotic plants and trees. In 1868, the Parque El Retiro, became the property of the City of Madrid. Previously it formed part of the Royal Palace and grounds.
What is inside the Palacio de Cristal?
The Palacio de Cristal is empty inside. However, the Reina Sofia Museum is in charge of organizing contemporary exhibitions. During our visit an art exhibition was on display.
The front entrance of the palace leads to a large artificial lake, set in the El Retiro Park. The lake contains swans and hundreds of small terrapins. They swim very close to the steps and are lovely to watch.
The Park itself spreads over a 130 hectares and the annual Madrid book fare take place here. More than 15, 000 different trees can be seen in the park. During the 17th century many festivals took place here. That included bullfights, mock battles and theatre.
How to enter the El Parque Retiro?
The park has a number of entrances:
- The Plaza de la Independencia (Main entrance);
- Calle de Alcala;
- Calle O’Donnell.
If you are travelling by Metro then the park can be accessed via Retiro and Banco de España Metro Stations.
Opening hours of the Palacio de Cristal:
October to April: 10 am to 6 pm. Sundays and holidays it is closing at 4 pm.
May to September: 11 am to 8 pm. Sundays and holidays it is closing at 6 pm.
It is closed to the public on Tuesdays.