Sunday, June 10, 2012

Public function of the Retiro Park

The Retiro Park used to be a property of Hispanic Monarchy. I think the Retiro Park has done a really good job to transform the original royal retreat park to a public park, and let it fit into the local Spanish community very well. There are several amazing attractions such as the beautiful artificial lake, the Retiro Pond, the magnificent monument of King Alfonso XII, the fountain of the Falling Angel, the museum and the crystal palace. I like the park because of its very considerate design and layout. Those attractions are in a comfortable walking distance between each other and there are clearly two different zones in the park. The first one is the north area. It is a more dynamic area because it combines the Retiro Pond, the monument of King Alfonso XII and the fountain of the Falling Angel. People can hang out here, jogging, rowing, and walking. The second part is the east part which is more tranquil. This part has the museum and the crystal palace, and garden. People who prefer tranquility can enjoy their leisure time by walking on the serpentine sandy paths, breathing the fresh air, exploring the crystal palace, and visiting the modern art gallery. In general, Local people come to the park very often. 

In China, there are many royal retreat parks in Beijing, such as the Royal Garden and the Summer Palace, and the Houhai “back sea” park. There are two types: with admission fees and free admission. Some places like Royal Garden and Summer have admission fees, so most of the visitors are tourists. Besides that, the sizes of the attractions are much larger. The Royal Garden is 12000 and the Summer Palace is 70000 , which is almost 50 times the Retiro Park. So people going to the royal park in China are rather to complete a “must-do task” than to enjoy it in leisure time like the Retiro Park. And others like Houhai “back sea” park, the local government turned it into a bar and restaurant area. So the atmosphere is more commercial than tranquil. Local people usually go to these places to enjoy themselves. I think Chinese government can learn some lesson from the Retiro Park and find a balance between the two extremes. 

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