Thursday, June 14, 2012

Palacio de Cristal de Arganzuela

Here is another"best kept secrets of Madrid". The Palacio de Cristal de Arganzuela (utilitarian English link, and more helpful Spanish link). It is a huge, very well kept, greenhouse on the Madrid River (Manzanares) walk in the Paseo de la Chopera part of town.
A "Copera" building where they used to butcher the cows.
You can see the cows head decorating the greenhouse.

I say that it is a "best kept secret" because one of the first questions we asked when we got to Madrid was "where are the botanical gardens?" (My love for European gardens is big and all consuming.) We got a lot of information, but we were never told about this place. In fact, the only reason we know about it is that it was on the River Walk map. Now this could be because we were asking the wrong people, but just in case, I am spreading the word of this wonderful find.

This place is old, built between 1908 and 1924, there has been enough time to grow a sizable collection of impressive sized plants. Renovated in 1992 it is now open to the public, and free to all. This has to be the most impressive and well cared for display greenhouse I have ever visited. Sure there is paint peeling in some areas, and there could always be more species of plants, but the plants that are there are well cared for and the walkways and "exhibits" are cleared of debris.

These banana leaves are the size of me!

The building is divided into four life zones: Desert, Sub-Tropical, and Tropical I and II.
We were able to visit all but Tropical I, which I am sure we will be going back to see soon.
As you can see from the following picture there are pathways that take you up to the second story. Not only can you get an eye level view of the bigger trees, but there are well marked flower boxes along the railings. 

Most of the plants are well marked including the region, country of origin, family name, common Spanish name (all signs are in Spanish) and Latin names. There are over 9000 species housed here.

The dessert section was particularly spectacular.

I will post the river walk photos in a different post. This find was so special I felt it deserved a post of it's own. You can find hours and location in both links at the top of the post. Warning, this is closed on Mondays.

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