A place to dream in nature's charms
El Capricho is a fifteen-minute metro ride from where I live and one of Madrid's precious green spaces. Open only at weekends, it is free to visit and it is delightful. The gardens were built for the Duke and Duchess of Osuna in the 1780s and there are 14 hectares of green with an artificial river, mock temples, statues, a maze, woods, roses and surprises at every corner. The gardens suffered at the hands of Napoleon's troops - who apparently shot the head gardener - and experienced decades of decay and destruction thereafter until they were finally taken over by the Communidad of Madrid in the 1970s. Now they are beautifully maintained and open to all and I have spent many hours here watching the people of Madrid enjoying their visit.
El Capricho is a favourite site for wedding and communion photos and it is amusing to watch a bride stomping over the grass in satin heels, holding her skirts aloft or to see a little princess similarly attired, posing for her proud parents. This bride and groom were accompanied by the smartest wedding photographers I have ever seen, in sharp suits and with the latest in equipment, I guessed this was a no-expenses spared union. The couples climb to the mock temple where they pose romantically in the evening sun.
El Capricho is a popular place for families with small children who are dressed to impress rather than play. This nino was with his father and other male relatives and is typical of many of the children I see at weekends.
Impeccably dressed in an old fashioned and traditional style favoured by the upper classes, I feel sorry for these "mini-me" offspring constriicted by both class and clothing. How he must envy the casually dressed who are "allowed" to tumble and roll their way down the grassy slopes.
El Capricho is a place to connect with your inner child or poet. A place to muse or simply snooze. Eating, drinking, skating or cycling or not allowed. This garden of enlightenment is for the simple pleasures in life, so take a loved one or a book, a sketchpad, camera or a journal and let it work its magic and know that there is a bar outside the main gates that welcomes visitors when the gates close at 9pm.