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Prado-Retiro

Application to UNESCO World Heritage

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Introduction

Madrid wants to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. To this end, Madrid City Council and the Regional Government of Madrid have joined forces to submit the nomination “Paseo del Prado and El Retiro Park: Landscape of Art and Science”, once it has been endorsed by the National Heritage Council. Would you like to know what this nomination entails? On this website you’ll find information that explains why Madrid wants to become a World Heritage Site and demonstrates its Outstanding Universal Value. Help us promote our nomination!

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UNESCO

imagen UNESCO

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Its mission is to contribute to the consolidation of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, communication, and information.

imagen La Convención del Patrimonio Mundial

The Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was ratified in 1972. This international convention was adopted based on the premise that some places on Earth have outstanding universal value and, in view of this, are part of the common heritage of mankind. Protecting them is the responsibility of the international community as a whole.

imagen La Convención del Patrimonio Mundial

UNESCO works with countries from all over the world to identify World Heritage Sites and ensure that they are preserved for future generations. The World Heritage List contains over 1000 sites, including “natural” and “mixed” sites (sites that are both “cultural” and “natural”). Some 850 are classed as “cultural” sites. The countries with the most sites on the list are Italy, with 54 designated sites, China, with 53, and Spain, with 47. The Caliphate City of Medina Azahara was recently added to the list. Places in Spain that can be considered cultural sites include Las Médulas (old Roman mines in León), the Palmeral of Elche, Aranjuez and the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range in Mallorca. Spain’s sites are thus quite diverse, attesting to the country’s rich cultural heritage, and are predominantly monumental in nature.

imagen La Convención del Patrimonio Mundial

The World Heritage Convention classifies “cultural heritage” as follows: Monuments, Groups of Buildings or Sites Architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features. Groups of separate or connected buildings. Works of man or the combined works of nature and man, and areas including archaeological sites. In the “Sites” category, the concept of the “Cultural Landscape" is relatively recent. Such landscapes are cultural sites which represent combined works of nature and man. They are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal. The “Paseo del Prado and El Retiro Park” World Heritage nomination is being submitted in the Cultural Landscape category.

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Madrid’s nomination

“Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro: A Landscape of Arts and Sciences” is a cultural landscape resulting from successive transformations aimed at uniting culture and nature in an urban setting. Paseo del Prado is a tree-lined promenade whose surrounding area is home to major cultural, scientific, political and economic institutions that represent society in Madrid and in Spain. Linked to the promenade, both historically and topographically, is El Retiro Park, the former royal gardens of Buen Retiro Palace. Together, the promenade and the park form an indivisible unit whose origins date back to the mid-16th century, when a space was first envisaged where all citizens, regardless of social class, could enjoy nature within the city walls, amidst planted trees, fountains and other decorative and recreational features.

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Universal Value

For a site to be added to the World Heritage List, it must prove to be of Outstanding Universal Value. The Outstanding Universal Value of Madrid’s proposed site stems from a combination of six interconnected factors; six fundamental traits that distinguish this extraordinary urban cultural landscape:

Gente en el Banco de España

Different phases and moments in history are reflected in the various strata of the landscape of Paseo del Prado and El Retiro Park, which gradually attracted an extremely diverse range of cultural, administrative, financial, political, scientific, economic, and recreational institutions to the area, turning it into a hub for major demonstrations staged by citizens.

Museo Thyssen

Paseo del Prado was one of the first tree-lined promenades and urban green spaces created for citizens to enjoy in a European city, the perfect example of the union of nature and culture.

Archivo histórico

Paseo del Prado became a model of Enlightened absolutist urban planning with its transformation in the 18th century under the reign of Charles III.

Paseo Habana

This Enlightened remodelling took on an international scope, particularly in Latin America.

UNESCO primera curiosidad

In this urban transformation, unparalleled value was added through the integration of Science into an important urban setting with an explicit educational aim, for the instruction and enjoyment of Madrid’s citizens.

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Since its beginnings, moreover, it has had a special connection to art and literature, particularly in the Spanish Golden Age. This three-pronged association (Nature-Art-Science) is utterly exceptional.

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History

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    Common resource

    The “Prado” (literally, “Meadow”) is mentioned for the first time in the Fuero de Madrid regional code of laws, as a common resource belonging to the Concejo de Madrid (Municipal Council of Madrid).

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    The first building

    The Prado Viejo (Old Meadow) comprises the eastern boundary of the city. Hieronymite monks decide to move their monastery to the area around the Prado. It’s the first building of any significance in the area.

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    The Monastery of San Jerónimo

    The Monastery of San Jerónimo is the site where the soon-to-be Charles I of Spain makes his public oath before the Courts of Castile.

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    More than a Monastery

    The Monastery of San Jerónimo is also the site where the heir to the Crown –on this occasion it's the future Philip II– makes his public oath before the Courts of Castile.

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    Seat of the Court

    Madrid becomes the seat of the Court, on the order of Philip II.

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    Expansion of the Royal Quarters

    Philip II orders the expansion of the Royal Quarters of San Jerónimo in order to retreat there as a sign of mourning for his wife, Queen Elisabeth of Valois.

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    Main entrance to the City

    For the occasion of Queen Anna of Austria’s arrival in Madrid, the Prado Viejo is converted into the main entrance to the City. A promenade is created at the request of Philip II, lined with a wide variety of trees and featuring a large lake.

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    Move the Court to the city of Valladolid

    Philip III decides to move the Court to the city of Valladolid, where it remains until 1606.

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    Town planning initiative

    The definitive establishment of the Court in Madrid in 1606 prompts a town planning initiative to beautify the roads to and from the Court.

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    Palace on the outskirts of the city

    The Count-Duke of Olivares begins construction works to transform the Royal Quarters of San Jerónimo into a palace on the outskirts of the city: La Casa Real del Buen Retiro (The Royal House of Pleasant Retreat).

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    The death of the Count-Duke of Olivares

    The death of the Count-Duke of Olivares as a consequence of the revolts in Portugal, Catalonia, and Naples ends Buen Retiro’s period of great splendour.

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    Assignment of land

    Philip IV cedes the lands at the junction of the Alcalá Road and the Prado to the City.

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    The House of Bourbon

    A new dynasty arrives in Spain: the House of Bourbon. The accession of Philip V ushers in a new era for both the Prado and Buen Retiro Palace.

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    The Court is moved to Buen Retiro Palace

    After a fire in the old Royal Alcázar of Madrid, the Court is moved to Buen Retiro Palace, which becomes the official residence of Madrid’s monarchs. A number of renovations are carried out in the French and Italian styles.

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    Change in the itinerary

    Ferdinand VI’s official arrival at Court brings a change in the itinerary followed since the late 16th century. On this occasion, the royal procession begins and ends at the Buen Retiro Palace.

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    New proposal

    Pedro Pablo de Abarca de Bolea, Count of Aranda and Minister to King Charles III, proposes a project to remodel the Prado de Madrid promenade.

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    Buildings of a scientific nature

    A monumental façade, as well as a cultural emporium, is created along the Atocha stretch of the promenade by means of a group of buildings of a scientific nature.

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    Period of relative stagnancy

    Following the death of Charles III, the Buen Retiro Palace enters a period of relative stagnancy due to Charles IV’s preference for the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, another Royal Site near Madrid.

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    Napoleonic troops

    During the Peninsular War, Spain is invaded by Napoleonic troops. The battle is especially devastating for the Buen Retiro.

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    Restore the Buen Retiro complex

    After the war ends, Ferdinand VII begins to restore the Buen Retiro complex with the creation of the Reserve, a project directed by royal architect Isidro Velázquez.

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    Decisions

    A decision is made to isolate and preserve the remains of San Jerónimo el Real, the Casón and the Salón de Reinos (Hall of Realms). In addition, improvements are made to the lake and the Prado Museum is created.

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    Place for outdoor recreation

    With the death of Ferdinand VII and the accession of Isabella II, Buen Retiro undergoes extensive changes in terms of its image and use.

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    The “Embarcadero” of Atocha

    The first Madrid-Aranjuez railway line is launched. Its final stop is a station known as the “Embarcadero” of Atocha (literally, “Dock”, a term used in the era to describe rudimentary train stations). Travellers arriving in Madrid are amazed at the Paseo del Prado complex.

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    New bourgeois

    The Prado becomes the symbol of the new bourgeois liberal state, and representative, political, economic and cultural institutions establish themselves there.

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    Glorious Revolution

    Following the so-called Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of Queen Isabella II, the Provisional Government of 1868 cedes the Buen Retiro Gardens to the people of Madrid.

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    Greek Neighbourhood

    The disappearance of the former palace buildings, furthered by Isabella II towards the end of her reign, enables the creation of the so-called Greek Neighbourhood between the Prado and Buen Retiro.

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    Public park

    The provisional government, established after the revolution which led to the deposition of Queen Isabella II, cedes Buen Retiro to Madrid's City Council so that it can be turned into a public park.

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    Gradually changes

    El Retiro Park’s trapezoidal shape gradually changes along with the new urban layout and the park becomes the city's main green lung, leaving behind its status as a peripheral area.

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    Large iconic contemporary buildings

    Paseo del Prado takes shape as large iconic contemporary buildings establish themselves in the area.

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    The Spanish Civil War

    El Retiro Park wasn’t particularly affected by the Civil War. Although it did sustain some damage, it wasn't extensive.

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    Hub

    El Retiro Park firmly establishes itself as a hub for a range of sporting, leisure and cultural activities, a place that tourists can stroll around and enjoy as a complement to the museum-focused cultural circuit.

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    Enrique Tierno Galván

    The establishment of the first democratic city councils after the Constitution of 1978 sees professor Enrique Tierno Galván elected as Mayor of Madrid.

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    Present day

    Paseo del Prado and the Buen Retiro in the present day.

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Did you know...?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

1. Reina Sofía Museum

Did you know that the Reina Sofía Museum was a General Hospital in the era of Ferdinand VI?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

2. Salón del Prado

Did you know that the Salón del Prado was the first tree-lined promenade, and that it was a favourite recreational area among Madrid's residents because it offered a place to have fun outside the tedium of the urban centre?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

3. Ventura Rodríguez

Did you know that Ventura Rodríguez designed the Salón del Prado promenade in the style of a hippodrome with mythologically-themed fountains, such as those devoted to Apollo (a symbol of the House of Bourbon, which is descended from the Sun King), Cybele (a symbol of Spain) and Neptune (a symbol of the Crown’s maritime power)?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

4. Other “Salón del Prado” promenades

Did you know that there are numerous areas called “Salón del Prado” in Latin America which were patterned on the original in Madrid?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

5. Science Hill

Did you know that the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Academy of Science, the Astronomical Observatory, the Cabinet of Machines, the Cabinet of Natural History, the Chemical Laboratory and the General Hospital comprised a complex which, in its day, was known as “Science Hill” (“Colina de las Ciencias”)?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

6. Botanical Gardens

Did you know that the Royal Botanical Gardens sponsored expeditions around the world to document the Earth’s flora, and that it has a large archive from these expeditions which is considered one of the world's scientific treasures?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

7. The Fallen Angel

Did you know that the statue of The Fallen Angel is a sculpture depicting Lucifer and that it was inspired by the British poet John Milton’s 17th century work “Paradise Lost”?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

8. El Retiro Park

Did you know there was once a palace in El Retiro Park, and that the only remains of this palace are the Salón de Reinos (Hall of Realms) and the Casón del Buen Retiro manor house?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

9. The Lake in El Retiro

Did you know that naumachias or mock sea battles used to be staged on the lake in El Retiro Park?

UNESCO primera curiosidad

10. Casa de Fieras (Menagerie)

Did you know that there was a zoo called “Casa de Fieras” (literally, “House of Beasts”) in El Retiro Park, in the area where the Eugenio Trías library is now located?

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Points of Interest

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Palacio de Buenavista

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Instituto Cervantes

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Fuente de Cibeles

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Banco de España

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Casón del Buen Retiro

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Congreso de los Diputados

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La Casa de Fieras y la Biblioteca Eugenio Trías

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La iglesia de San Jerónimo el Real

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La Real Academia Española

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Museo del Prado

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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

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Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Real Observatorio Astronómico

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Salón de Reinos

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Archivo General de Protocolos de Madrid

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Caix Forum

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Casa de América o Palacio de Linares

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Casita del Pesacador

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Centro Cultural Casa de Vacas

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Conservatorio de Música

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Estación de Atocha

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Hotel Ritz

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Hotel Westin Palace

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La Bolsa de Comercio de Madrid

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Medialab Prado

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Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca

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Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo

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Museo Nacional de Antropología

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Museo Naval y Cuartel general de la Armada

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Palacio de Cristal

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Palacio de Velázquez

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Real Colegio de Medicina y Cirugía San Carlos

Monument to Queen Maria Christina

Monument to Queen Maria Christina

Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalá

Apollo Fountain

Apollo Fountain

Cibeles Fountain

Cibeles Fountain

Galápagos Fountain

Galápagos Fountain

The Artichoke Fountain

The Artichoke Fountain

Neptune Fountain

Neptune Fountain

Children with a Vase

Children with a Vase

Monument to the Fallen for Spain

Monument to the Fallen for Spain

Monument to the Álvarez Quintero Brothers

Monument to the Álvarez Quintero Brothers

Monument to General Martínez Campos

Monument to General Martínez Campos

Monument to King Alfonso XII

Monument to King Alfonso XII

Paseo de las Estatuas

Paseo de las Estatuas

Puerta de España

Puerta de España

Puerta de la Independencia

Puerta de la Independencia

Ruinas de la ermita de San Isidoro

Ruinas de la ermita de San Isidoro

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Benito Pérez Galdós

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Ramón de campoamor

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Charles III

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Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linné)

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José Cavanilles

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Cecilio Rodríguez

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Claudio Moyano

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The Concrete Dice

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Diana the Huntress

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The Goddess Hera

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Doctor Ángel Pulido Fernández

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Doctor Benavente

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Doctor Cortezo

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The Fallen Angel

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Enrique Tierno Galván

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Federico Chueca

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Francisco de Paula Martí Mora

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Fray Pedro Ponce de León

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The Sardana Fountain

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The Egyptian Fountain

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Santiago Ramón y Cajal

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General Francisco Morazán

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Hercules and the Nemean Lion

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Hercules and the Hydra of Lerna

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Jacinto Benavente

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Jacinto Verdaguer

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Juan Van-Halen y Sarti

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Lagasca

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Luis de Góngora

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Miguel Moya

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Fountain of Cuba

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Seated woman

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Murillo

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Porcelain Factory Waterwheel

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Pedro Vargas

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Pío Baroja

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José Quer

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Ricardo Codorníu

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Ruperto Chapí

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Simón de Rojas Clemente

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Thalia

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Tolosa Latour

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A Painter for El Prado

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Velázquez

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El Parterre

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Estanque Grande

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Jardines de Herrero Palacio y Cecilio Rodríguez

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Chopera y el Bosque del Recuerdo

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El Estanque Ochovado o de las Campanillas

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Jardín de los Planteles

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La Rosaleda del Retiro

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Montaña Artificial

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Real Jardín Botánico

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Entities

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Ayuntamiento de Madrid

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Bolsa de Comercio de Madrid

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Hotel Ritz

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Real Academia Española

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Parroquia San Jerónimo el Real

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Museo Nacional del Prado

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Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

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Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente

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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

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Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

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Banco de España

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Congreso de los Diputados

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CentroCentro

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Fundación la Caixa

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Hotel Westin Palace

Fundación ICO

Fundación ICO

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Real Observatorio Astronómico

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Casa de América

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Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid

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Fundación Antonio Maura

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Instituto Cervantes

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Medialab Prado

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Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad

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Museo Nacional de Antropología

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Ministerio de Defensa

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Real Jardín Botánico

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Centro Cultural Casa de Vacas

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Colegio Notarial de Madrid

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Cuartel General de la Armada

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Cuartel General del Ejército de Tierra

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Estación de Madrid Puerta de Atocha

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Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Médicos de Madrid

UNESCO primera curiosidad

Museo Naval

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