Located in the very center of El Retiro Park, the Crystal Palace is considered one of the best examples of metallic architecture in Spain.
This stunning building stands next to a small artificial pond with ducks, geese, and black swans. I have no doubt this is one of the most popular Instagram spots in Madrid and an essential landmark in El Retiro Park.
More than two million people visit this building every year, don´t miss it!
Table of contents
- When was El Retiro Crystal Palace built?
- Why was the Crystal Palace built in El Retiro?
- The architecture of the Crystal Palace
- Where is the Crystal Palace located?
- What is the current use of the building?
- Is it free to visit the El Retiro Park Crystal Palace?
- What are the opening hours?
- What is the best time to visit the Crystal Palace?
When was El Retiro Crystal Palace built?
El Retiro Crystal Palace was designed by the architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco and was built in 1887. The author got inspired by the building in London with the same name.
Why was the Crystal Palace built in El Retiro?
This iconic structure was one of the main venues of an exhibition about the Philippines in 1887, which was then still a Spanish colony. The building was used as a greenhouse to house a large sample of exotic plants.
The main purpose of the exhibition was to strengthen commercial and economic relations between Spain and the Philippines.
Many locals ignore that, apart from the flora and fauna, a total of 43 natives arrived in Madrid to be exhibited as samples in a kind of human zoo. This is one of my 10 unknown facts about El Retiro Park.
The architecture of the Crystal Palace
The structure is made almost entirely of glass plates and cast iron on a brick base which is decorated with ceramics.
From the inside, you can admire how this architectural design creates a beautiful bright space. You will find an open area with no rooms or decorations, that is why it is perfect for exhibitions.
The Crystal Palace in El Retiro Park has a wider central body supported by two lower naves along the side. Its domed roofs make the structure over 22 meters high.
Where is the Crystal Palace located?
The Crystal Palace is located in the heart of El Retiro Park, in Paseo de Cuba, 4.
Other popular landmarks close to this spot are the Velazquez Palace, the Fallen Angel Fountain, and the Rose Garden.
What is the current use of the building?
The Glass Palace belongs to the Reina Sofía Museum and is currently used for hosting temporary exhibitions.
You can visit the official Reina Sofia website to check the exhibitions available. On the list of expositions, you should search for the ones hosted in the “Palacio de Cristal del Parque del Retiro”.
Is it free to visit the El Retiro Park Crystal Palace?
Yes. There is no entrance fee to the building.
What are the opening hours?
Although the Crystal Palace is especially beautiful from the outside, the interior is also worth a visit. Especially if there is any temporary exhibition available, remember that the entrance is free.
The opening hours vary depending on the time of year and the sunlight. The Palace is open from April to September, between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.; in October and March, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and from November to February, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
What is the best time to visit the Crystal Palace?
In my opinion, the spot is especially beautiful in Fall. The stunning fall colors provide a unique landscape to take some panoramic photos of the Palace integrated with the surrounding nature.
Also, take into account that the sun lights up the main facade in the morning and locates behind the Crystal Palace at dusk.