AREAS OF MADRID NEAR MADRID CITY CENTER
Príncipe Pío - Casa de Campo
Principe Pío - North Station
A middle class neightbourhood. The old Estación del Norte, today remodelled into intercambiador (station/transport hub for commuter trains, metro and buses) and shopping mall. Near Pricipe Pio station is is what used to be the main access to the Casa de Campo, the Puerta del Rey (King's Gate) in front of the royal palace.
In the area is the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, a chapel which houses some magnificent frescos painted by Goya, at Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida, 5. The chapel, a solemn-looking building from the outside, is full of life and colour in the inside, with its grand pictorial decoration painted by Francisco de Goya at the end of the 18th century. While completing this masterpiece of Spanish art, the Aragonese painter was aware that he was decorating one of Madrid´s most popular churches, famous for its procession on the 13th of June.
There are actually two chapels in the site. The original Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida was built in 1795 by the Duchess of Alba. She had the great Spanish painter Goya paint the frescoes in the interior. The second was built in 1929, to allow to continue to use the church without damaging the original paintings.
When painting his frescos, Goya used a technique which consisted in painting with colours that had been diluted in water on plaster that was still damp. He would sketch out the figures on paper before painting them on the walls, though his creative urges led him to make several changes as he was working, anticipating artistic styles that were to follow, such as expressionism and impressionism.
Goya himself is buried within the Ermita. Though he died in Bordeaux in 1828, his remains were brought back to Spain in 1919 and laid to rest in the chapel. Installed at the foot of the presbytery, Goya’s tomb is made of granite and marked with the tombstone that had adorned his grave in Bordeaux. As he had been buried in France alongside a relative by marriage, Martín Miguel de Goicoechea, both were brought to Madrid and laid to rest alongside each other in order to avoid errors of identification.
There are actually two hermitages built here (the second in 1929). In that way they could continue to use a church without damaging the original. The original Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida was built in 1795 by the Duchess of Alba. She had the great Spanish painter Goya paint frescoes in the interior. Goya himself is buried within the Ermita.
On the 13th of June the festival of San Antonio de la Florida is held. On this day according to dressmakers' tradition, a single girl must place 13 pins in the baptismal font, and if one of the pins sticks to her finger, she will marry during the year.
Facing the northern facade of the Royal Palace, the gardens owe their name to the old royal stable buildings built by Francisco Sabatini and which once occupied this area. Designed as geometrical French-style garden, its exceptional location makes it one of the most pleasant gardens in Habsburg-era Madrid (aptly called Madrid de los Austrias).
The tour will start in Bailen street, where a grand iron-fenced entranceway, and an old stone stairway bring us downstairs to the garden built in the 1930s.
After entering the gardens, one of the best places from which to see the sunset is in the large rectangular pool in the middle of the gardens, surrounded by geometrically laid out shrubs hiding the occasional fountain, and surrounded by trees and white marble sculptures. Whether stretched out in the grass or sitting on a bench, the visitor can watch the changing yellow and rose-coloured tones light up the greyish walls of the Palace.
Casa de Campo
Located on the right bank of the Manzanares River to the west of Madrid, the Casa de Campo is a large park with an area of about 4,000 acres. It is hard to believe that the Casa de Campo park has survived the passing of the centuries being, as it is right by the city center. Formerly haunting grounds of the kings of Spain, it became a public park in 1931, it is 5 times the size of New York City's Central Park. The huge Casa de Campo is the lungs of Madrid, it is mostly wild land -dehesa- with pine trees, holm oaks,
chestnut trees, ash-trees....and plenty of wildlife, one can feel being at the end of the world, at a ten minutes ride from the city center in the cable car. People tend to concentrate in the area around the lake at the weekend: children love the amusement park and the zoo; but the great, empty extensions of this fantastic natural reserve are not so frecuented by madrileños, as it has a reputation for being a place for seedy exchanges, the City Council has lately done a lot to root out this practices, which were anyway limited to a specific area. The Casa de Campo is a great place for cycling, running, picnic and day-trekking. The park also has facilities for exhibitions and sports.
At the Paseo del Pintor Rosales, in Arguelles, you can take the teleférico (cable car) which drops you right in the middle of the park. This aerial cable car runs above the Parque del Oeste and the Casa de Campo. It offers from the sky a unique panoramic view of the city. Inside the Casa de Campo is Madrid's amusement park which has improved significantly in recent years by adding 3 new roller coasters, also Madrid Zoo, and the leisure area around the lake, where you can rent a rowboat for a ride at the artificial lake, and later have a drink or a bite in any of the chiringuitos (refreshment stalls) around. The area can be reached by metro, at the station Lago (lake).
See also our parks and gardens page.
Views of Madrid and Casa de Campo from the Cable Car
On this section
Principe Pio shooping
Principe Pio bus, metro and cercanías train station
Goya frescos in San Antonio de la Florida church
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