An Afternoon in El Parque del Oeste Madrid
By Sylvia Jopillo,r.a. for GoGlobalToday.
Many go to Madrid for el cocido, el vermút en las terrazas, the architecture, the museums, the theaters, and the nightlife.
Madrid is practically a city for anyone who knows what she wants. Bookstores and second-hand bookshops at each corner compete with pastry shops and bakeries along with the terrazas invading the curbs.
But there are spots in the city that I truly love, one of these is the Parque del Oeste (Western Park.) With ancient trees, rolling greens, snaking walking paths, and enough buffer of quiet from the traffic that allows you to hear the gentle breezes rustling through the trees.
The park is almost 100 hectares, located between the road to Coruña, Ciudad Universitaria, and the Moncloa neighborhood.
Created in 1893, the Madrid government inaugurated it in 1906 for walking and relaxation. But it is interesting to note that before the 20th century, the park's land was the city's main landfill.
The park evolved through the years and included the complex of the Templo de Debod, a beautiful Egyptian monument gifted by Egypt to Spain.
Further work on the park included the Cuartel de la Montaña and barracks, where they fought the battles during the Spanish Civil War. You can still see trenches and bunkers at the park's northern end.
Then in 1973, the building of the Rose Garden, a complex of English garden-inspired layout for roses, further extended the park.
The sprawling greens of the park housed thousands of trees of various species. Most of these were planted in the 1900s and withstood the onslaught of time and seasons.
There are walking trails that lead to the Templo de Debod and even to as far as the Parque del Rio Mananzares. But within itself, the Parque del Oeste is an oasis of calm and relaxed refuge from the noise and bustle of the big city.
A Jamon Iberico sandwich, a bocadillo de calamares, a cold drink, a blanket spread out under the trees, a book or an exciting friend make for a leisurely afternoon of reading or conversations. Or taking a quiet morning walk along the various trails with the bird songs and soft breezes can be a start of a lovely day in a city.
The greens of the park, its pine scent, and the blue Madrid sky offer a walker or a visitor a peaceful ambiance with one's thoughts.
An exciting part of the park's complex is the Templo de Debod. It sits on the site of the Cuartel de la Montaña. The atoll offers a view of the sprawling vegetation of the Casa de Campo, which also forms part of the park network and a farther section of the city.
An afternoon with a book on a bench overlooking the Casa de Campo from the temple complex is quietly rewarding.
The Rosaleda del Parque del Oeste is a manicured rose garden where they hold the annual show of the different varieties of roses in Madrid. So far, they have recognized 47 new varieties in the city's garden.
It is a crazy burst of colors and scents, especially from the start of April until the end of May. With these, a day in the park changes the rhythm of Madrid. It takes one to another way of walking, hearing, and seeing. It is an immersion that quiets the mind and heart.