“ Location: Buen Retiro Park / Madrid „
**Palacio de Cristal, Madrid**
During our four days in Madrid we visited countless monuments, museums and general tourist attractions. One of the museums we visited was the Palacio de Cristal.
When Palacio de Cristal was built in 1887 its design was based on The Crystal Palace which formerly stood in London until it was destroyed by fire. The Palacio de Cristal was originally home to Philippino Flora and Fauna art, I am unsure what this is but it was in my information leaflet which I picked up when we entered the museum, but it is now home to more contemporary art and has exhibits which change on a regular basis.
Palacio de Cristal is located within the main park in Madrid, Retrio Park. From the centre of Madrid it took us around 20 minutes to walk to the park and then around another 10 minutes to reach the museum within the park. This walk may have taken us a little longer as we were walking slower due to the heat of 42 degrees and taking in the beauty of the park as well.
**From The Outside**
The museum is located towards the back of the park if you are entering from the main gates. From the outside the Palacio de Cristal is very easy to recognise as it looks like a huge old fashioned green house with a beautifully designed roof. On the day we visited the museum it was very sunny and you could really see where the museum gets its name from as it was so sparkly in the sunshine that it really did look like crystals! Outside the museum there is a lovely lake which I am told is part owned by the museum and the park, with water fountains and fish, if you watch carefully you may see the fish jumping out of the water. The lake is also home to many ducks and a couple of black swans as well as many many terrapins who can be found sunbathing on the rocks around the edge of the pond. There is a decent fence around the lake to keep from falling in!
At the front of the building you will see some steps leading up to the entrance and to the left of these steps you will see a huge metal ramp which has been constructed for wheelchair and pushchair access and I would also imagine for ease of getting exhibits in and out of the building. While I see the usefulness of this ramp and fully agree with the need for it I think they could have done a little better with the design of it as compared to the Palacio de Cristal building it looks really out of place and like a metal monstrosity.
**Inside the Palacio de Cristal**
Palacio de Cristal is open from 10am until 6pm from October to March and from 10am until 10pm from April to September. If it is a rainy day then the Palacio de Cristal will be closed. Entrance to Palacio de Cristal is free and upon entry you will be handed a ticket which will then give you free entry, worth around 12 Euro, to the huge Renia Sofia art museum, this bonus is because the Palacio de Cristal is a part of the Renia Sofia museum.
Once inside the Palacio de Cristal I personally felt as if I really was inside a giant green house! This was probably due to the scorching heat outside and being inside a mainly glass building with no air conditioning. From the inside the building itself looks pretty similar to the outside with regards to architecture, it is mainly a combination of glass and traditional Spanish architecture.
At the time of our visit there was an exhibit taking place. The exhibit was very small as the Palacio de Cristal is literally one large room. There were about 6 displays included in the exhibit and they were all glass themed which fitted really well with the building itself.
The exhibits in the Palacio de Cristal do change from time to time but I will tell you a bit about a few of the exhibits we saw during our visit. As I mentioned there were around 6 exhibits and while they were all very good some were a little strange too. My first example of this is the exhibit which seemed to take up a large area of the floor space within the museum, this exhibit consisted of what seemed like hundreds of dark glass bottles standing in a large circle with an old black and white TV set standing on top of the bottles in the centre of the display, there were many wooden boards around the edge of the display although I'm not sure if these were part of it or just there as protection for the bottles. The TV had a fuzzy display and didn't appear to be showing anything in particular. Maybe I'm missing the point here but it all seemed a little strange to me!
The next exhibit which caught my attention was the other large display which seemed to take up quite a lot of floor space on the other side of the room. This display consisted of a selection of large glass panels with artwork on them to show the evolution of mankind. This was a very simple design but it looked good to see the evolution time line displayed in a more unusual way.
The other exhibit I feel is worth a mention is the hanging display of glass circles from the roof of the museum. The exhibit is located in the centre of the room and hangs low enough to see it clearly but far enough away to keep a certain curious mystery about it. The display is literally some black, white and clear glass circle shapes hanging from the ceiling, it looks and sounds very simple and it really is but in this building the effect of the light on this display is fantastic and almost mesmerising!
The other displays in the museum at the time we visited were along the same kind of lines as the three I have gone into detail about. Granted all of the exhibits in the Palacio de Cristal are a little on the unusual side but I think this is what makes them interesting.
Another notable thing about the inside of the Palacio de Cristal is the views of outside. Being located in a beautiful park makes the views from Palacio de Cristal absolutely stunning with lush green trees and the lake outside it really is a very picturesque place to visit.
Being one large open plan building the Palacio de Cristal doesn't have many facilities such as gift shops and cafes, it does however have some toilets which are located at the back of the museum down a few stairs, although after seeing the queue for the toilets we decided we could wait!
Overall I would recommend a visit to the Palacio de Cristal, I found it to be a little on the strange side but this made it all the more interesting. It was free to enter and you are given free entry to the Renia Sofia museum too which is one of the most popular art museums in Madrid, so I would say that it is worth a visit even if you only want the bonus free entry! We only spent around 15 to 20 minutes in Palacio de Cristal which was enough time to take in the exhibits and feel like we were cooking before heading outside in search of a shady area!
Overall, 4 out of 5 Stars from me :)
Thanks for reading :)