An Afternoon in Retiro Park


All the photos in the following story are "links" that will open larger versions in a separate window.

Guide to the Maps:
Parks = green
Walking paths = yellow
(Only principal paths are shown)
Streets for cars = white
Monuments = gold
Important buildings = gold

August, 2004
The pictures were taken on
June 3, 1998 except for the
pictures of the gofres and of
the Book Fair in 2000 that were
both taken on May 28, 2000.

© Copyright 2000-2004
by JSP Schwarz
Retiro Park Map
A map of Retiro Park is seen above. I suggest that you click on the map to open a new larger map (112K) in a separate window showing the route of my walk through the park. You can refer to this second map as you read the story. The numbers on this second map correspond to the numbered photos in the story below.

One afternoon, I took a taxi to the northeast entrance of Retiro Park to attend the Book Fair that occurs during the first part of each June. After getting out of the taxi, I walked toward the fair. After a short while, I asked a young woman for directions to the fair. Believing that her accent was German, I asked her, "Where are you from?". Her answer surprised me: "I'm from Barcelona." Because every Catalán that I had met spoke English, I had formed the opinion that I would be able to speak English with anyone from Catalonia. It was the truth in this case also because I soon found out that she spoke English with an accent that I recognized at last as Catalán or French. In English she told me to follow the walk (1. below left, 36K) and the fair would be at the end in the center of the park.

We were enjoying very fine weather that afternoon in June, and, as I walked along, I saw many people touring the park by several means: walking, jogging or biking like the fellow whom you see here (1. left, 36K). After walking a short time, I arrived at the Guatemala Plaza that had a very impressive equestrian statue (2. right, 28K), a work (1907) by Mariano Benlliure. The horseman is General Arsenio Martínez Campos who had a distinguished military career during the Cuban wars. But wait a little bit until I tell you the history of the main monument in the park so that you may learn the most memorable thing he did in 1874.

In a short time, I found the fair but, at three in the afternoon, it was closed (3. left, 28K). I found out that the fair would reopen at six, but I wasn't able to wait so long; therefore, I decided to tour the park on foot taking photos from time to time. I am giving you a photo (4. right, 32K) that I shot in 2000 to show you the fair open. But what you see in the photos of the two fairs is the tip of the iceberg. The fair in 2004 took place between May 29 and Jun 13 on this park's Paseo de Coches with the participation of 131 booksellers and 193 publishers.

I began my tour by walking toward the estanque (lake) and its great monument. After a bit I found this magnificent anchor (5. right, 48K) on the southern shore of the estanque. All I know is that this anchor must be important if it is in this park.

Near the anchor along the east shore of the estanque I found statues of some lions and ladies. My first photo (6. left, 28K) shows you two of the ladies mounted on creatures of the sea. A third lady (7. right, 36K) is seen not to be nude but clothed in copious graffiti.

Very soon I met a married couple from Belgium at the side of the big estanque near the principal monument. I recognized them as tourists because the man was taking a video of the monument there. The man didn't speak Spanish but this was the only language that he didn't understand. He spoke German, English, French and Flemish. They would remain in Madrid three weeks before returning to Belgium.

I took a photo of a plaque about the history of the monument to honor Alfonso XII. But wait a bit (you've heard that before) until I can show you the photo of the complete monument. From the east side of the estanque I can't offer you more than the base of the monument (8. left, 28K). You can see that it was hot this day. On the north side of this monument I found a remarkable man (9. right, 36K) of whom the pigeons had no fear. Madrid is a city of some four million residents, and there are many who feed the four million pigeons as you see here.

But now I wanted to find a restroom (toilet), and I began to look for one. Very soon I saw a building (10. left, 40K) that proclaimed that it was open with an exhibition of world press photos. It (the building) is called Casa de Vacas (House of Cows) and is the Madrid pavilion for photographic exhibitions. I entered because I well knew that it would have a rest room.

The first person whom I saw inside was a young woman looking at the photos. I asked her, "Please, do you know where the men's room is?" She answered me with both voice and finger, "Go down the staircase over there."

There will be a short pause to use the restroom.

Meanwhile, to continue, jump to the
conclusion of «An Afternoon in Retiro Park»

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