A bit of history
The creation of the Juan Carlos Park implied at the time transforming a highly degraded area of the city and the recovery of an existing centenary olive grove. The park, the third-largest in Madrid after La casa de Campo and the newer Parque de Valdebebas.
What to expect
boasts a 30,000 square meter lake where kayaking is possible, a river-like water channel of almost two kilometers long, 13,000 meters of walking paths, 21 hectares of olive groves, 19 outdoor sculptures, a garden called Las Tres Culturas, a greenhouse called Estufa Fría and an auditorium.
Garden of the 3 cultures
The Garden of the Three Cultures is a set of three gardens at the heart of the park. This area is meant to symbolize the coexistence that, centuries ago, took place in Spain among Jews, Muslims and Christians. A specific area is dedicated to each of these religions. The best example of the co-existence of these cultures is found in the city of Toledo (known as the city of three cultures)
La Estufa Fría
La Estufa Fria is an open greenhouse with a collection of exotic plants distributed in 13 biotypes. Visitors will find here a minimalist Japanese garden. Amongst the flora, at this open greenhouse, you will find bamboos, succulents, cycads, and palms, or citrus fruits.
The solar pyramid
The solar pyramid is a construction next to one of the entrances to the park. It cannot be visited, but it is one of the architectural landmarks in the park´s landscape. The pyramid serves as parking for all the vehicles that are used to service the park. The electricity generated by the panels is used to recharge these vehicles.
The pyramid measures 38 meters at the base and 18 meters high at its top. The pyramid is made up of a curtain wall of photovoltaic panels. The solar energy captured during the day is transformed into electrical energy which at the end of the working day is used to recharge the vehicles.
There are 19 enormous abstract sculptures in the park. Renowned artists from different countries participated in the International Symposium of Open Air Sculptures that was held in the Juan Carlos I park in 1992. Eleven of the 19 sculptures are from that date, with the remaining added in later years. A walk through the park offers the possibility to admire some of these fantastic sculptures. Not all of them will be to everybody´s liking, but we are sure you will love some of them at least! Our favorite ones: the hand that gets out of the soil and the knights at the lake!
Playground and picnic areas
The Juan Carlos I is a perfect place to enjoy with the family. There are many playground areas for children, large grass fields, and fountains to cool off and play in summer. You can also eat in the picnic areas that are located in different areas of the park. Our favorite one is located near the Olivar, with part of the lake next to it and a good playground area not far.
Bycicle riding, kites and other sports
At Juan Carlos I park, you will find soccer fields and basketball courtyards, and an immense bike lane. Bicycles can be rented at one of the facilities available. You will find to provide with either an identity card or a passport to profit from this service. Kayak is offered as a regular service by the kayak club (subscription is needed to practice it) and last, but not least, the Juan Carlos is probably the best park in Madrid to enjoy kite flying.
Is it worth visiting?
The Juan Carlos Primero is with no doubt a top highlight in Madrid, but probably due to its location, it is a park mainly for locals. Despite being well-connected by line 8 of the Metro network (the closest station is feria de Madrid) the park is far from other attractions in Madrid. If you plan to stay several days in Madrid it may make sense to visit it if you are with the family (despite other attractions like the Zoo auquarium or Faunia may be higher on your list). These two zoos are very different and both offer excellent opportunities to enjoy both Spanish animals and animals from around the globe.
However, the Juan Carlos is a free park, it is almost empty during week days (unlike El Retiro or Madrid Rio). If your time is limited, we would recommend you use the Retiro, the park at the Debod temple or Madrid Rio as your parks to enjoy greenery in Madrid. We recommend you visit our Madrid travel pages to get the best information to prepare your trip to the city.
Juan Carlos I park – Video