We recently spent a single day in Madrid. Our trip was to Northern Spain
but Madrid happened to be our port-of-entry and exit. Although we managed
to walk throughout most of the old center we opted only to visit the gardens
(fortunately we had a beautiful Spring) reserving museum visits and other
interior sights for a more in-depth visit of the future.
The gardens of Madrid did not disappoint us.
The Parque del Buen Retiro is the quintessential urban park with gardens, promenades, fountains, lakes, all being enjoyed by the Madrileños.
The Real Jardín Botánico is a gardener's delight. A world-class botanical collection in which one can lose themselves for several hours.
The Jardines de Sabatini is a formal garden adjacent to the Palacio Real. Precisely clipped box hedges and cypresses accentuated with pools and statues. This garden is linked to the Plaza de Oriente the impressive square in front of the Palacio Real. The Jardines de Sabatini also have a wonderful view looking over El Campo del Moro, the last garden of our tour.
El Campo del Moro is to the west of the Palacio Real. It serves as a small park and as the grounds for the palace. The lawn that sweeps up the hill to the palace is framed on both sides by large horse chestnut trees and offers a spectacular visual introduction to the facade of the palace. It was necessary to walk all the way to the westernmost entrance of the Campo before we could enter but it was well worth it.
If you like this type of sightseeing I recommend Barbara Segall's The Garden Lover's Guide to Spain &Portugal.
John Rule San Diego, CA