Crystal Palace

Madrid, Spain | C.1887

Photo Credit: Ana Linares

The Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, or “Crystal Palace”, is a hidden gem found within Madrid’s Buen Retiro Park. Built in 1887, this glass structure was designed to mirror London’s own Crystal Palace, and was intended as a space to exhibit exotic flora and fauna from the Philippines, a Spanish colony at the time. A reconstructed Filipino village once sat in the surrounding park as a part of the exhibit.

Designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Velazquez Bosco, the structure itself is a stunning example of a Baroque greenhouse. It features glass walls reinforced by cast iron framework that forms the shape of a Greek cross. The Palacio resembles an ornate birdcage, however you won’t find any avian species within the structure today.

While originally designed as a greenhouse, the Palacio currently houses art exhibits as a venue for the Museo Nacional Centro de Art Reina Sofi­a. Named after Spain’s Queen Sofi­a, the Museo is home to Spain’s 20th century art. For some time, the Palacio hosted the National Fine Arts Exhibition. Currently, it houses site-specific projects and contemporary art installations.

A glittering emblem of Spanish architecture, the Palacio de Cristal continues to radiate beauty and seamlessly blend the worlds of art and nature through its translucent glass walls.

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