In the heart of the Retiro Park lies this large lake, a popular spot with the city's residents, who go there to sunbathe or hire rowing boats.
Built in the early seventeenth century, the lake was the heart of the garden belonging to the Buen Retiro palace and was used to stage spectacles such as reconstructions of naval battles and to allow the royal family and the court to enjoy boat trips. At that time it was linked by a stream to the chapel of Saint Anthony of Padua, which no longer exists, and the Retiro had its own shipyard to build boats. In the middle of the lake there was an oval-shaped island which was used for theatrical and musical performances.
On the same spot, almost a hundred years later, Farinelli delighted the court of Philip V with his singing. In the last third of the eighteenth century the island in the centre was covered by the waters of the lake and in 1902 the monument to Alfonso XII was erected. Financed by popular subscription, it is an outstanding example of historicist architecture. The monument was designed by José Grases Riera and completed by Teodoro Anasagasti, while the equestrian statue crowning it is the work of Mariano Benlliure.
Boating: Mon-Fri: 5.80 euros / Sat-Sun: 7.50 euros
Solar-powered boat: 1.50 euros
Boat hire: Mon-Sun: 10.00am-5.30pm/8.30pm, depending on the time of year.
Solar-powered boat: Mon-Sun: 10.00am - 2.00pm /4.00pm - sunset
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