The capital of Spain has a green heart: El Parque del Buen Retiro.
|Airplane shot of El Retiro on Panoramio|
El Retiro (as it's commonly known) has been around pretty much since Madrid was made capital of Spain by Philip II in the 16th century. He had the park of the Jeronimos monastery (set up by his great-grandmother Queen Isabel) enlarged and formal avenues with trees laid out. Since then it was developped and maintained for the Spanish Royal family, at first as a retreat from the palace and later as a part of court life for plays etc. The park was opened to the general public after the revolution in 1868 (when Queen Isabel II had to flee the country) and since then has remained public property managed by city hall.
The fact that I went walking in the park twice in the same weekend should give you an idea as to how important it is to the people of Madrid. The friend I spent Friday afternoon with goes every day and walks around for about an hour with her daughter and the dog.