Madrid’s Atocha train station has a verdant surprise awaiting the unsuspecting traveller with a lovely tropical garden inhabiting what was once a train shed that opened in 1892.
It had its tracks removed in 1992 and is now a lush garden complete with a rehomed turtle pool (minus its inhabitants who were relocated in 2018 to a local wildlife park)
The 4,000 square metre garden contains over 7,000 plants of 400 different species from the Americas, Asia, and Australia.
You will find breadfruit and coconut trees from Polynesia, royal palms and mahogany trees from Cuba, rubber trees from Brazil, banana trees from the Philippines and palm bottle trees from the Indian Ocean islands.
These days high-speed trains leave from 15 modern terminus platforms built as a southward extension to the old trainshed, known as Madrid Puerta de Atocha.
We’re heading to check out El Retiro Park, the largest park in Madrid, with lakes, formal gardens and glass houses.
The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park.
In the heart of the park is a large lake that was built by the architect, Cristobal de Aguilera. It was used to hold water shows, such as navy battles or mock battles, and boat rides for the King and Queen and their Court.
It still bustles with water based fun with row boats for hire.
As we head into the park, we pass this musical maestro! Making beautiful music on a rather unusual instrument – wine glasses!
In 2021, Buen Retiro Park became part of a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site with Paseo del Prado.
Here we see the impressive Glass Palace. Originally built in 1887 as a greenhouse to showcase plants as part of an exhibition on the Philippines which was then a Spanish colony.
Today the Glass Palace is owned by the Reina Sofía Museum which uses it all year round as a venue for hosting temporary exhibitions.