Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences, Spain

A new idea of urban space and development from the enlightened absolutist period of the 18th century.

Glass Palace (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences, also known as the Landscape of Light, is a cultural enclave located in the centre of Madrid, the capital of Spain.

Cervantes Institute (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The Landscape of Light includes the areas of the Paseo del Prado, the gardens of Buen Retiro, the Barrio Jerónimos and the Royal Botanical Garden, as well as iconic buildings such as the City Hall of Madrid, the Bank of Spain and the Cervantes Institute, among others.

Lake of the Buen Retiro (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The construction of the lake of the Buen Retiro began in the 16th century along with the Paseo del Prado. A century later, King Philip IV added the Buen Retiro park to the equation. In the 18th century, the area was beautified and scientific facilities were built.

El Prado (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The urban and artistic complex of El Prado combines buildings of a cultural nature with green areas and enclaves dedicated to science.

Paseo del Prado (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

Of all the elements of this cultural landscape, the Paseo del Prado was the first to be built. It was the first tree-lined boulevard to be created in any European capital and was made with the intention that citizens of any social class could enjoy nature in the middle of the city. 

A walk in the Retiro Park

In the 17th century, King Philip IV decided to build a palace that he intended to use as his second residence and recreation area: the Buen Retiro Palace. From then on, the palace gardens would be closely linked to the Paseo.

Monument to Alfonso XII (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The now-disappeared palace became the epicentre of Spanish culture in the middle of the Golden Age. In the 18th century, Charles III opened the gardens to the public.

Royal Astronomical Observatory (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

In the middle of the age of the cultural movement known as the Enlightenment, which emerged in Europe in the 18th century, a new vision of urban space was born. It was in this period that a number of scientific facilities were added to the Landscape of Light.

Fuente de Cibeles (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The Enlightenment brought about an important intervention in urban planning for this area of Madrid. Not only were cultural buildings constructed, but the area was beautified and fountains and ornamental elements, among other things, were added. 

Bank of Spain (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro are, overall, one of the best urban representations of the enlightened ideal, its scientific character an exceptional addition.

Reina Sofía (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

 It is possible to make all kinds of plans in this area of the city, from sporting pursuits or cultural visits to educational activities. In fact, Paseo del Prado is home to one of the most important museum complexes in the world, known as the Golden Triangle of Art due to the proximity between the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

CaixaForum Madrid (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

Near to this famous triangle, other museums can be found, such as the Naval Museum, the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Decorative Arts and the CaixaForum, with its vertical garden.

Royal Botanical Gardens (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

From its very earliest days, the Paseo del Prado had a great influence on Hispanic America, especially in the 18th century. The collaborations between the two continents were not only urbanistic, but also cultural, the botanical expeditions that departed from the Botanical Garden to Latin America standing out in particular.

Puerta de Alcalá (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

In total, the Landscape of Light has 41 monuments and 48 buildings, as well as 20 trees that are considered to be World Heritage and can be found in the Retiro, the Botanical Garden and different squares and promenades.

Palacio de las Cortes (2021) by Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and SciencesUNESCO World Heritage

The Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro is, all in all, a unique heritage complex that democratizes knowledge and sprinkles it with beauty.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by the Comunidad de Madrid: www.turismomadrid.es

More on the Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences and World Heritage: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1618/

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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