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Hyde Park

Hyde Park (23)

The CV of this beautiful park of 145 hectares is impeccable: with an extensive area of green fields, a lake, the possibility of going horse riding and a setting containing more than 4,000 trees, it is easy to leave behind the stress of the traffic and pollution. 

A classical spot dedicated to free time, Londoners come here, above all on sunny days, to row in the lake, listen to music, go cycling, play a thousand and one sports and even relax doing tai-chi. 

The land on which today stands the park once belonged to the monks of Westminster Abbey, but passed into the hands of King Henry VIII in 1536. The king used it as a private hunting reserve. The inhabitants of London had to wait until the reign of James I, in the 17th century, to be able to use the park.

If you enter via Hyde Park Corner you will come across one of the park’s identifying aspects: the bridle path called Rotten Row. This path, whose name comes from the deformation of the French expression Route du roi, king’s route, was open in the 17th century, when William III moved the Court from Saint James’s Palace to Kensington Palace. Considering that the way between both palaces was dangerous, since at that time there were often duels and unsavoury characters in the vicinity, he had a track built. He also illuminated it with 300 oil lamps.

The Serpentine, the park’s large artificial lake, was excavated in the 18th century for Queen Carolina, the wife of George II. To create it they had to make a reservoir of the water from the River Westbourne. Today, the most exclusive corner and the part with the best views of the Serpentine is the Lido. Here you can sunbathe, sit down and eat in the Lido Café, hire a boat and even go for a swim. To the south of the Serpentine there is today a spectacular fountain dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana of Wales.

In 1851 the International Exhibition was held in the park. The gigantic Crystal Palace was built for the occasion, a glass structure 500 metres long and more than 30 metres high. At the end of the exhibition it was dismantled and relocated in south London. Unfortunately a fire destroyed it in 1936.

The 19th century also saw how Hyde Park became a place where demonstrations were often held, which at the time were prohibited by law. After long protests, in 1872 the Prime Minister gave permission for meetings to be held, which led to the establishment of one of the most famous spots in the park, Speaker’s Corner, where anyone who likes can stand up and address those present with a public speech. 

The oxygen that the park provides for the city is complemented by the neighbouring Kensington Gardens, which is to the west and adds another 100 hectares of green fields top the splendid Hyde Park.

Relax and enjoy this oasis in the middle of the city, and perhaps a squirrel, of the many that inhabit the park, will come up and greet you.

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