Once upon a time, Madrid and much of Spain was under control of the Moors. In the 9th century, the emir of Córdoba, Muhammad I, established a fortification on a hill, called the Alcázar; around it, a settlement developed, called Mayrit, from which the name Madrid originates. The location was perfect, strategically and also practically as the Manzanares river runs close to the hill. The Alcázar was conquered in the 11th century; subsequently, the moorish Ali Be Yusuf tried to reconquer the city in the early 12th century. To do so, he and his army encamped right below the Alcázar. It is this episode that gave Campo del Moro its name: encampment of the Moor. Madrid was never again recaptured by the Moors. South of the Royal Palace, you can still find some traces of Moorish walls; otherwise, there is not much tangible evidence of their important role in this city.
In later times, the area below the Alcázar was used as hunting ground. After the Alcázar was consumed by fire in the 18th century, construction of the Royal Palace started. Around this time, developing the fields at the foot of the Royal Palace was also considered. Developing Campo del Moro was not easy, both for lack of water, despite the proximity of the Manzanares river, and for the steep inclination of the terrain. For some time, they were used as truly royal playground for the young royalty. It was not until the mid-19th century that the Campo del Moro area was seriously developed into a park.
Narciso Pascual y Colomer was the architect who was responsible for much of the layout we see today. He thought of a main avenue running from the Royal Palace to the river Manzanares, which today is called the Praderas de las Vistas del Sol: meadows of the sunsets. In fact, since this avenue runs almost exactly east-west, the sunset can be seen from here. When I entered the park, it was early in the morning, and the sun was just rising behind the Royal Palace. I walked the main avenue, and also some of the many paths in the large park. On the way, I saw secluded spots with statues, the large Fuente de las Conchas and Fuente de los Tritones, I saw some of the small Tyrolean style houses built in the Habsburg era, I heard and saw peacocks, and small ponds with ducks and other birds. And, of course, most of the time I saw the Royal Palace, high above me, as the crown on the park.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Campo del Moro (Spain). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Campo del Moro. Read more about this site.