Two Ghosts Who Haunt the Royal Botanical Garden Across from the Westin Hotel Palace in Madrid, Spain

by DerdriuMarriner

Savvy ghosts haunt outside and publicly. They know how to elude ghost-busters and researchers. Two such ghosts may -- or not -- be seen in Spain’s Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid.

The Hotel Palace graces el distrito Centro (“the central district”) of Madrid, the largest city in and national capital to the Kingdom of Spain. It is a testament to:
• Early twentieth-century architecture;
• Late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century updates;
• Scenic views.

The scenery surrounding Madrid’s Hotel Palace juxtaposes built and natural beauty around and on:
• Calle del Duque de Medinaceli;
• Carrera de San Jerónimo;
• Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo;
• Plaza de las Cortes.

But the most mysterious vista of all must be viewed not from inside any room in the world-famous hotel but from within the unassuming Royal Botanical Garden immediately across the street. The park alone permits two ghosts to materialize:
• A harried beauty;
• A hurried hunk.

*****

The Westin Palace, Madrid
Plaza de las Cortes, 7
28014 Madrid
Spain

Telephone: 34 91 3608000 (USA only 1 800 937 8461)
Website: http://www.westinpalacemadrid.com/en

*****
*****

Real Jardín Botánico
Plaza de Murillo, 2
28014 Madrid
Spain

Email: inforjb@rjb.csic.es
Fax: 34 91420 01 57
Telephone: 34 91 420 30 17
Website: http://www.rjb.csic.es

Closed: Christmas Day, New Year's Day

*****

Madrid's grand Hotel Palace traces back to architectural preferences of King Alfonso XIII ~

Retrato del Rey Don Alfonso XIII con el uniforme de husares de Pavía (Portrait of King Alfonso XIII in a Hussar's Uniform): 1907 oil on canvas by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (February 27, 1863 – August 10, 1923)
Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid), central Spain
Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid), central Spain

 

Madrid’s Hotel Palace dates back to the early twentieth century.

  • Its architecture epitomizes the functional, innovative beauty and stability of reinforced concrete.
  • Its conception evokes the power of a personal preference of King Alfonso XIII (May 17, 1886 – February 28, 1941) of Spain being conveyed to Jemeppe-sur-Meuse-born Belgian luxury hotel manager and owner (Joseph Hubert) Georges Marquet (September 19, 1886 – March 29, 1947).
  • Its construction honors the genius of Vilassar de Mar-born Catalan architect Eduard Ferrés i Puig (August 20, 1872 – June 24, 1928).
  • Its formal opening -- eighteen months after the foundation stone's realization on March 11, 1911 -- on September 12, 1912 is remembered on the list of the world’s largest hotels.

 

elegant façade of Madrid's Hotel Palace, now owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide via their upscale brand, Westin Hotels & Resorts

Madrid, central Spain
Madrid, central Spain

 

Since 1999 the Hotel Palace claims cultural heritage status as Bien de Interés Cultural (“Good of Cultural Interest”). The categorization confers protection by the Kingdom of Spain’s Ley 16/1985, de 25 de junio, del Patrimonio Histórico Español (“Law 16/1985, of 25th of June, of the Spanish Historical Patrimony”). It ensures continued enjoyment by locals, nationals, and visitors of:

  • Banqueting and event facilities;
  • Bar and restaurant;
  • Rooms and suites.

It means that guests can keep tracking the footsteps of the Hotel Palace’s most famous and loyal patrons through such historically favored haunts as:

  • The basement and its memories of breweries, dance halls, jazz lounges, and movie theaters;
  • The circular lounge with its Art Nouveau-styled, light-filled, stained glass-topped dome.

 

Stained glass cupola celebrates the building's winter garden (El jardín de invierno) with floral themes in Art Nouveau style.

Madrid, central Spain
Madrid, central Spain

 

It is perhaps not too far-fetched to expect to find ghosts haunting the Hotel Palace’s historic niches. The hotel indeed lies proximitous to the enigmas, mysteries, and secrets which swirl around:

  • Museums (Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Nacional del Prado);
  • Old Town squares (Plaza Mayor, Plaza Villa, Puerta del Sol);
  • Opera houses (Teatro Real);
  • Palaces (Palacio Real);
  • Parliament (Cortes Generales);
  • Subways (Banco de España).

It likewise may harbor back-stories for occupying property owned previously by the extant, prominent ducal line of Lerma. But unless sightings go unreported, the closest suggestions to hauntings relate to corridor-runs by Leeuwarden-born exotic dancer Mata Hari (Margaretha Zelle MacLeod, August 7, 1876 – October 15, 1917).  

 

Westin Hotel Palace is the locale for sightings of ghostly appearances by exotic dancer Mata Hari, executed as a spy during World War I (July 28, 1914 - November 11, 1918), in the building's corridors ~

Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" Zelle MacLeod, known on stage as Mata Hari ("Eye of the Day"), in evening dress by Maison Buzenet of Paris
February 1910
February 1910

 

Ghosts haunt Madrid's 19.77-acre (8-hectare) botanical garden and:

  • Archives;

  • Desert, humid, palm, tropical greenhouses;

  • Herbarium;

  • Library;

  • Pavilion.

Terraces have:

  • Aromatic, endemic, medicinal, orchard, ornamental squares (Cuadros);

  • Botanic schools (Escuelas botánicas);

  • Laurels (Alta de los laureles);

  • Mid-nineteenth-century romantic English-inspired shrub- and tree-flowerings (Plano de la flor).

They honor:

  • Ferdinand VI's (1713 – 1759) garden-founding decision-making, 1755;

  • José Quer y Martínez's (1695 – 1764) 2,000+ donated plants;

  • Carlos III's (1716 – 1788) relocating the garden from Soto de Migas Calientes (Hot Crumbs Orchard), 1774-;

  • Casimiro Gómez Ortega's (1741 – 1818) botany;

  • Francesco Sabatini 's (1722 – 1797) and Juan de Villanueva's (1739 – 1811) architecture.

 

Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid): haunted by a sorrowful beauty who is seen most often on garden's Hotel Palace side

Plaza de Murillo, central Madrid, central Spain
Plaza de Murillo, central Madrid, central Spain

 

A harried unknown constitutes the garden's less frequent specter. The phantom's viewers emphasize the poignancy of:

  • Bright-colored, fair-weather, long-hemmed clothes;

  • Desperate, sorrowful searches along flower-lined paths.

They find her immediately ahead, suddenly behind, unexpectedly gone. They have the greatest chances of sightings on the garden's Hotel Palace side. They know from local back-stories that the spectral beauty intends no harm. She merely memorializes the spot of her handsome fiancé's death after falling and hitting his head on a rock during one of their beloved strolls. Her infrequent visitations therefore seem more sensical than those of the handsome, hurried gentleman dressed like Fuendetodos-born Spanish portraitist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (March 30, 1746 – April 16, 1828).

 

El pintor Francisco de Goya (Portrait of painter Francisco de Goya): 1826 oil on canvas by Vicente López y Portaña (September 19, 1772 – July 22, 1850) ~

Another sighting in botanical garden is of panic-stricken, hurried phantom, with appearance and dress reminiscent of Goya's portrait in the garden's neighbor, the Prado Museum.
Museo Nacional del Prado, central Madrid, central Spain
Museo Nacional del Prado, central Madrid, central Spain

 

Anywhere in the garden affords opportunities to observe the hurried runner in early nineteenth-century attire. Reminiscent of the Goyaesque portrait completed by Valencia-born Spanish portraitist Vicente López y Portaña (September 19, 1772 – July 22, 1850) and displayed in the Prado, the anxious ghost flaunts:

  • Elaborate-fronted, high-collared shirt;

  • Fancy waistcoat;

  • Velvet-collared jacket.

The time, venue, and wardrobe therefore hint at governmental concerns, what with royal prompts to the garden, hotel, and museum. But what particular cause or mission inspires panic-stricken, pell-mell flight? The phantom's speedy, worried body language in fact may project local dissatisfaction over royal rule but regional insecurities over non-royal alternatives. Goyaesque themes never stray too far from consideration of either above-mentioned governmental option.

 

Madrid's exquisite Real Jardín Botánico is a place for encounters with nature and with other-worldly visitors, some of whom seem borrowed from the garden's illustrious neighbors, Prado Museum and Westin Hotel Palace.

central Madrid, central Spain
central Madrid, central Spain

Conclusion

 

Madrid’s Westin Palace Hotel appears on reservations of Spain’s first-time tourists. It assumes beloved retro designations -- Grande Dame (“Great Lady”), Hotel Palace -- with repeat sojourns. All re-visits configure new people to meet, places to go, and things to do. But they consider:

  • The Hotel Palace’s activity rooms, bar, lobby, lounge, restaurant;
  • The Royal Botanical Garden.

The two places flow together, like the Prado and the Parque del Buen Retiro (Pleasant retreat park). Ghostly appearances to garden-strolling hotel guests perhaps hallow that association. May their geography overlap emotionally, with the gentleman being so entranced with his yesteryear ensemble -- for a costume ball where the Palace now stands -- that he fatally stumbles while strolling with his fiancée?

 

 

Prado Museum, which shares vicinity to Royal Botanical Garden with Westin Hotel Palace, continues floral and spectral sightings through eastern landmark, Retiro Park:

La Fuente del Ángel Caído (Fountain of the Fallen Angel), sculpture of Lucifer falling from heaven, inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost: designed by Ricardo Bellver (February 23, 1845 - December 20, 1924) for Exposition Universe in Paris, 1878.
Real Jardín Botánico's eastern neighbor: Jardines del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park), Madrid, central Spain
Real Jardín Botánico's eastern neighbor: Jardines del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park), Madrid, central Spain

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (March 30, 1746 – April 16, 1828) is most extensively represented artist in Prado Museum; a lookalike phantom is sighted scurrying through Real Jardín Botánico, on Prado's southern border ~

Puerta de Goya (Goya Gate), at Prado Museum's north façade, features statue of famed painter by Mariano Benlliure (September 8, 1862 – November 8, 1947)
Prado Museum, Madrid, central Spain
Prado Museum, Madrid, central Spain

Sources Consulted

 

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Bettonica, Luis. Palace Hotel Madrid. Madrid: Nacional Hotelera, 1987.

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Simón Gómez, Luis. 26 October 2011. "El hotel 'Palace'." Madrid y sus rincones: Zonas para divertirse. Retrieved October 28, 2014.

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Tronchoni, José L. Bernabé. 4 November 2007. "Vicente López y Portaña." Find A Grave.com: Find A Grave Memorial# 22654151. Retrieved October 28, 2014.

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Underwood, Peter. 2009. Haunted Gardens: An International Journey. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Amberley Publishing Plc.

"Vicente López y Portaña." The J. Paul Getty Museum: Collection. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust. Retrieved October 28, 2014.

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The Westin Palace Madrid.com. Retrieved October 28, 2014.

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Westin Hotel Palace's spectacular, welcoming lobby enchants guests, year after year drawing returning guests, including other-worldly visits in corridors by long-gone Mata Hari.

central Madrid, central Spain
central Madrid, central Spain
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Haunted Gardens by Peter Underwood

Paranormal expect Peter Underwood shows, with examples from all over the world, just how spooky gardens can be! Carefully researched and fully illustrated with Peter's own photographs.
El Greco-themed books

Palace Hotel Madrid by Luis Bettonica

Palace Hotel Madrid

The city is full of ghosts by Manuel Rebello/elgatoazul: heather grey t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

Ghosts
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 05/08/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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