The Casa de Campo Park, Madrid’s breath of fresh air
This impressive area of green land with over 1,700 hectares, located near the urban hub of Madrid, was in the sixteenth century the hunting ground for the monarchy and their court. Nowadays, it is still used as a leisure area, although now it has become a public space where anyone can enjoy running, walking or just relaxing.
The Casa de Campo, a manor house bought by Philip II for hunting
Indeed, the Casa de Campo project was born when Philip II decided to establish Madrid as the capital of Spain, which became official on 8 may 1561, a decision undoubtedly influenced by the location of the villa. One year later, the monarch bought a terrain which had belonged until then to the Vargas family, with the aim of connecting the grounds with the palace and the hunting area called El Pardo.
During the reign of Ferdinand VI, the Casa de Campo was declared a royal forest, whilst Charles III (considered amongst citizens of the town “the best mayor of Madrid”) promoted the development of agriculture and farming on the land.
During the Second Republic the ownership of this extensive wooded area passed from the Estate to the City Council, thus ensuring it to be enjoyed by the citizens of Madrid. However, during the Civil War they were unable to enjoy it as much as they would have liked to, as it was the scene of various warlike confrontations. In fact, some of the remains of these conflicts are still preserved today, and the area has been declared a historical site of cultural interest.
Fortunately, in the years after the war, the Casa de Campo regained its essence of calm and became the life-breath of the capital. The proof of this is that today it is for many citizens their favourite place to go for a weekend run or to walk amongst its trees and streams.
The Casa de Campo lake
There are many aspects that attract the locals to this wooded area, some being its pleasant landscape and its variety of trees—such as, elm, ash, pine, oak…—, as well as the beautiful panoramic views of Madrid city centre and even of some of the civil and recreational buildings.
However, the Casa de Campo lake is, if not the best, one of the best elements of this impressive public park. It is an artificial lake designed during the reign of Philip II by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, famous for designing the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
With an area of 80,150 square metres, the Casa de Campo lake is the ideal place for a romantic date aboard one of its boats, or to take some exercise in a canoe. In addition, next to it is the Manuel Ortego Entomological Centre, which has a butterfly and beetle collection of around 15,000 species.
The Madrid Zoo
If you prefer to leave the insects alone and see animals from any part of the world, the Madrid Zoo is also located in the heart of the Casa de Campo, less than 3 kilometres from the lake.
It is the perfect day out if you are travelling with children, who will have a wonderful time watching the koalas, giraffes, bears and sharks. The zoo facilities include an aquarium, a dolphinarium and an aviary, and is the home of over 6,000 species of animals. The zoo also has a fantastic sea lion and dolphin show, as well as an exotic birds and birds of prey show.
The Madrid Theme Park
Located between the zoo and the Casa de Campo, Madrid’s theme park, known as Parque de Atracciones de Madrid, is also an ideal choice for those who travel with family. It has nearly 50 attractions that are arranged in the following categories:
- Extreme. The attractions that are included in this group are the most spectacular ones taking into account the speed they reach and the adrenaline they generate. Tornado, La Lanzadera, Tifón and Vértigo are some of the classic rides. Be careful! These are not rides suitable for people that get dizzy easily.
- Exciting. This category includes rides that are not as spectacular as the previous ones but are just as exciting, such as the Rotor, a typical swing carrousel, or Los Rápidos, a refreshing water ride.
- Family and Nickelodeon Land. Finally, both of these categories are suitable for families, especially for young children.
The Madrid cable car, the best way to get to the Casa de Campo
As you have probably noticed, the Casa de Campo has a really complete tourist offering. Furthermore, you can even get there by a means of transport that will allow you to enjoy unique views of its beautiful and unique forested area and see from the air the Parque del Oeste, the Príncipe Pío train station and the San Antonio de la Florida hermitage.
The cable car ride only lasts 11 minutes and travels a distance of 2.5 kilometres from the station on Paseo del Pintor Rosales street to the Casa de Campo, and reaches a height of 40 metres. Can you think of a better way to visit the life-breath of Madrid?
Information of interest
How to arrive
- Metro: Batán (L10), Casa de Campo (L5 y L10) and Lago (L10).
- Bus: 31, 33, 36, 39 and 65.
- Open all year round, although the gates on Paseo de Extremadura street, the zoo, the theme park and the lake are closed at night, from 1:00 AM to 6:00 AM.