Casón del Buen Retiro

The remnants of the Palacio del Buen Retiro

Erected in 1637 under the direction of Alonso Carbonell to house the ballroom of the Palacio del Buen Retiro in Madrid, this grandiose space together with the adjacent Salón de Reinos or Hall of Realms constitute the only elements of the Palacio del Buen Retiro complex that are still preserved. Its extensive interior space, with its double height and an upper balcony for spectators, is covered with a large vault partitioned with lunettes and decorated al fresco by the artist Luca Giordano in 1692, the mastermind behind the allegory of the Golden Fleece, which commemorates the creation of the order by ‘Felipe el Bueno’ of Burgundy.

The Casón or large house was an integral part of the Palacio del Buen Retiro until the unfortunate ruin of the court complex subsequent to 1813. Miraculously kept standing, its recovery was possible thanks to successive projects by the architects Mariano Carderera and Ricardo Velázquez Bosco; to the latter we owe the Casón’s new western façade.

Since 1971, the Casón del Buen Retiro has fallen under the umbrella of the Prado Museum. Today it houses the Museum’s Study Centre, which boasts more than 60,000 volumes and 1,000 periodical titles. The former ballroom is today this Centre’s Consultation and Reading Room, under the lavish fresco by Luca Giordano.

Casón del Buen Retiro photograph