There’s a hidden gem in Madrid’s largest park — the Crystal Palace, or “Palacio de Cristal.” The imposing structure is built almost entirely of glass on an iron framework. Decorative ceramic inlays add embellishment to its columns and facades. At its feet, steps lead down to a reflective lake. Rainbows refract and light up its various domed rooms.
The Palacio de Cristal is unquestionably beautiful — but where did it come from? What was the inspiration behind its striking design?
Twenty years before the Palacio de Cristal was built, its home, Buen Retiro Park, was converted from exquisite royal grounds to welcoming public property. The architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco was tasked with creating an exhibit to house flora and fauna from the Phillipines. The result? An entire palace-sized greenhouse, modeled after London’s Crystal Palace. The glass walls and domed ceilings were originally created so sunlight could access the lush plants and flowers they housed.
Today, the Palacio de Cristal is no longer a greenhouse. Instead, it’s home to various art exhibits. Its predecessor, the Crystal Palace in London, no longer stands. Madrid’s version was built to be moved and re-erected if necessary, but it remains exactly where it debuted.
We think the unique reflections of light reflected by the curvature and structure of the Palacio de Cristal is so inspiring. In fact, one area is so well-known for its bouncing prismatic spectrums that it’s referred to as the “Room of Rainbows” — so dreamy! It’s like a giant manmade crystal that you can walk inside of! We’d love to visit in person.