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I Wonder Why...?

I will be writing about aspects of Spanish history and their traditions. I am a very curious person and have always needed to know "why" they do it, and "how" it came about. So over the years while living in Spain I have made a conscious effort to discover "el porque de las cosas" and I will be sharing them with you. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.

Atocha's Botanical Garden
Friday, November 3, 2023 @ 7:56 PM

The winding paths and many benches within this garden make it the perfect place to kill time or sit down with a cup of coffee or a book while waiting for your train. The lush greenery is a wonderful escape from the chaos of Madrid. It’s so serene, you’d be forgiven for forgetting you’re in a bustling train station, surrounded by commuters in a rush to get somewhere.

This wonderful garden was inaugurated in 1992. It fills an abandoned section of the building that was once the old Atocha train station before the transportation hub was expanded to include its high-speed train links. The garden contains over 7,000 plants from more than 260 species.

In the tree section, you’ll find many species native to tropical forests. Here, you can wander among breadfruit and coconut trees from Polynesia, royal palms and mahogany trees from Cuba, rubber trees from Brazil, banana trees from the Philippines, the endangered palm bottle trees from the islands of the Indian Ocean, and an impressive traveller’s tree from Madagascar.



The plants in the garden’s lower section are also originally from the tropics and include African coffee plants, Central American cacao plants, and South American Heliconia flowers. A few stranger plants such as carnivorous plants, the Mexican fruit salad plant, South African bird of paradise flowers, and the endangered Ginkgo biloba plant from Japan can also be found growing here.



Funnily enough, the water lily ponds used to be home to numerous North and South American freshwater turtles that were former pets. After the turtles were abandoned by their owners and thrown into the wild, biologists rescued them from Madrid’s waterways. Instead of treating them as invasive species and euthanizing them, the biologists gave the turtles a second shot at life and set them up in a fancy new home within the garden, where they wouldn’t cause any harm to members of the native Iberian ecosystems. However, in the spring of 2018, the turtles were relocated to a nearby wildlife park due to overcrowding and overpopulation of the ponds. 

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