Retiro is a district of Madrid, but the borders of the neighbourhood are a little different. What Madrilenian people mean when they talk about Retiro is the space that surrounds the Buen Retiro Park, the biggest urban park in Madrid downtown. Retiro is a large neighbourhood, as only the park is a 350 acres space (1,4 km2). Many bus lines pass by some of the entrance of this green area, including the Madrid Sightseeing buses. The nearest Metro station is Retiro (Line 2), which take the visitor just inside the park. Another nearby stops are Ibiza (Line 9), Atocha (Line 1) and Menéndez Pelayo (Line 1).
The Buen Retiro Park is a place that is worth visiting. It offers quiet and peace, but also monuments and buildings that will surprise the tourists. One of them is the Alfonso XII monument, just in front of the lagoon. The Ángel Caído statue (Fallen Angel) is a point of meeting for the occult fans. Meanwhile, the Crystal Palace is the most important building of the Retiro Park, made of glass and inspired by the London one, which doesn’t exist anymore. Just around the Buen Retiro Park visitors can discover some interesting monuments.
The Alcalá Gate, in Plaza de la Independencia, stands out. It is a monumental gate and it didn’t serve as an entrance to the city. The king Charles III commissioned the construction to the architect Sabatini in the late 18th century. He handed two designs to the king and the monarch loved both so much that he couldn’t choose anyone: he ordered to set one design in each facade.
Alcalá Gate is located in front of the northwest entrance to the Buen Retiro Park and it was made in Neoclassic style. In Retiro neighbourhood there also are important buildings. For example, the Casón del Buen Retiro, which belongs to the Prado Museum and serves as a school for artists. It is one of the few rests of the ancient Buen Retiro Palace. Just across the Buen Retiro Park, tourists can visit an unknown jewel: the Pantheon of Illustrious Men, attached to the Nuestra Señora de Atocha Basilica. It hosts funeral mausoleums of important 19th and 20th century politicians.
As we said, Retiro is a neighbourhood to feel peace, but tourists can also visit some cultural institutions. One of them is the Casa Árabe, an institution that studies and divulges the culture of Muslims. It occupies a Neo-mudéjar building, made of brick and decorated as Medieval Muslims used to do. Hundreds of metres eastward, there is a small gallery that commissions exhibitions related to books: the Círculo de Lectores.
Its auditorium serves also for book presentations. Anyway, the Buen Retiro Park usually hosts important events that gather a lot of people. For example, the Feria del Libro: this is a fair where booksellers, editorials, institutions and writers join to promote and sell books every June. Another important event is the Madrid Fashion Week, which takes place in February: it is the greatest appointment in Spain for designers, models and fashion lovers.
Due to its quiet, Retiro is a neighbourhood where tourists can find many luxury hotels, especially on Alfonso XII street. Petit Palace Alfonso XII is one of them, whose facade faces directly to the Buen Retiro Park. The same as the AC Palacio del Retiro, a modern and sophisticated hotel. Those who want to stay in a cheaper place can look for a hostel eastward and southward the Buen Retiro Park, such as Agumar Hotel or Arco Iris Hostel.