Built in 1784 by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna on the outskirts of Madrid, El Capricho is one of the city’s most beautiful and least known parks. El Capricho means caprice or whim and the name makes justice to what we find today. The gardens cover 17 hectares and were designed by Jean Baptiste Mulot, who also worked on the Petit Trianon in Versailles. They are divided into three sections: the Parterre (French garden), the English landscape garden and the Giardino all’italiana (Italian garden).
The gazebo located on a hill is one of the most romantic spots in Madrid. You can find majestic statues resembling Roman gods, huge chestnut trees and endless flower beds all around the park. There are also a number of amazing examples of art and architecture. You will find Greek style columns and ruins, a large lake with black swans, a palace, a rose garden and a labyrinth.
Two wars almost destroyed this cultural heritage site. The War of Independence, during which the dukes had to go into exile but were able to return and rebuild the gardens, and the Civil War when some of the buildings suffered irreparable damage. After years of abandonment, the park was finally acquired by Madrid’s City Council in 1974.
The fairytale-like Capricho gardens are a relaxing shelter, especially in a busy city like Madrid. You can get there by taking line 5 metro, getting off at the Canillejas stop and walking a few minutes to the park’s entrance in the Alameda de Osuna, but be aware that the gardens are only open to the public on weekends and national holidays. Entrance is free.