Parks and Gardens of Spain
Spain’s unique blend of the modern and the historic is detailed in public parks and gardens, some being among the oldest in Europe. The country’s influences of Mediterranean, Roman and Arab cultures have converged into an original, distinctive Spanish garden style, filled with villas and fountains. Spain’s royal parks reflect the society’s European heritage, while the natural preservation areas boost UNESCO–protected biodiversity.
Madrid and its surroundings are home to several ‘not–to–be–missed’ park routes. Whether a dedicated day trip or a leisurely stroll at lunch time, these parks are not only beautiful but provide insight into Spain’s culture.
Nearly four hundred years old, Retiro Park (pictured) has remained the flagship public park of the city, and one of the most outstanding gardens of Europe. A site of many celebrations, festivals and theatrical performances, Retiro Park was begun in 1630 by Philip IV.
Don’t miss the central lake with a monument in Alfonso XII, the Casa de Velazquez, and the Palacio de Cristal, the Rose Garden and the French garden with some of the oldest trees in Madrid.
Just 30 minutes outside of Madrid, the gardens of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez surround the residence of the King of Spain and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the serenity as you stroll around the fountains and the mythological statues.
Don’t miss the Jardín de la Isla, which is located on a man–made island bounded by the River Tagus and the Ria Canal, the Jardín del Principe, which contains a miniature palace built for Charles IV, and the Museo de las Falúas Reales — which has most important extant collection of Spain’s royal pleasure barges.
Madrid’s hidden gem, Los Jardines de Capricho, dates back to 1784, once serving as a place for the Royal family to escape city life. Beautifully landscaped, the park is displayed in three different styles — the French “parterre”, the English garden, and the Italian giardino. A designated children’s play area makes El Capricho a must–see for all family travelers.
Located in Segovia (a 30–minute train ride from Madrid), this park is adorned with statues, vases, benches, and beautiful waterworks and fountains.
Don’t miss the Fuente de la Fama with its high stream of water, the baroque Baños de Diana, the magnificent Carrera de Caballos, and the cascade in front of the palace facade. The park also houses a restored labyrinth.
Known around the world for its botanical delights, Andalusia is home to some of the finest parks and gardens. A mix of cultural influences, a distinctive Southern flair, and Spain’s architectural legacy come together in these unforgettable itineraries.
Designed in 1929 as part of the Ibero–American Exposition, Seville’s largest urban park is the birthplace of a modern Spanish style of gardening known as “neosevillian” or “neoarab.” The style would have a major influence on all Spanish public parks during the earlier 20th century.
Walk through the plazas, squares, and monuments in the park, named after Cervantes, the Machado brothers, and Bécquer, and admire the intricate use of brick and ceramic tile in many of the fountains, lakes, and park buildings.
Considered by many historians to be the oldest royal castle grounds, the gardens of the Real Alcázar are a signature example of Mudejar architecture. Moorish in origin, the gardens were expanded during the Renaissance and the reign of Philip III, resulting in a stunning mix of the two distinctive architectural styles.
Dating back to 1319, the gardens of El Generalife in Granada reflect the traditional design of an Arab recreational villa with its patios and lookouts opening out on the countryside.
Do not miss the Patio of Riad and its water fountain, the Patio of El Ciprés de la Sultana where the historic cypress tree is still preserved, and the staircase cascade — an inspiration to so many landscape architects.
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