Madrid is a green city: the largest avenue has a royal line of trees in the middle, and it has several parks where you can relax in a natural setting. The largest park lies to the west of the city, and can be reached by subway and funicular, or even on foot. More than just a park, Casa de Campo gives you the feeling of being completely in nature. It has hills, footpaths, an artificial lake, and if you venture away from the entrance you will probably be alone after a while. True, you can also find an amusement park, a zoo, swimming pool and sports grounds, and various playgrounds for kids, but they are located at the edges of the park and thus easily avoided.
The history of Casa de Campo goes back to the early 16th century, when this terrain was bought by noble families, in particular the Vargas family who had a country house constructed here - hence the name: Casa de Campo. Its proximity to the Royal Palace makes it a logical extension, and indeed, in the mid-16th century, Philip II acquires the area we now know as Casa de Campo. This terrain was subsequently expanded by purchasing more adjacent terrain. One of the main interests of Philips II was to use the extensive terrain as hunting grounds, to be used exclusively for the royal family. It basically continued to be so until 1931, when the entire Casa de Campo was opened to the people of Madrid. Quite soon after that, it became a battleground during the Civil War, and most of the buildings were destroyed.
My first use of Casa de Campo was as a great place for running. You can run almost endlessly for a long time without ever returning to the same stretch, and its vicinity to the city makes it ideal. During those trainings, I discovered a second use for many young Spaniards: it is a great place to have sex in the open, undisturbed by anyone, not even parents. Later, I enjoyed Casa de Campo very much as an escape to hot Madrid in summer: the hills can give you some air that cannot be found in the city, while the swimming pool is another place to cool off. Otherwise, just going for a stroll along the lake, or wandering further into the interior of Casa de Campo makes for a great way to spend some time out of the city. After spending time on the former royal hunting grounds, it is a good idea to take the funicular back to the city: it gives fine views of the royal palace, and the skyline of the bustling Spanish capital.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Casa de Campo (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 Casa de Campo. Read more about this site.