UNESCO grants world heritage status to Madrid's Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park

FILE PHOTO: People enjoy boat rides in Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) -UNESCO added Madrid's historic Paseo del Prado boulevard and Retiro Park to its list of world heritage sites on Sunday.

The tree-lined Paseo del Prado, in the centre of the Spanish capital, is home to the Prado museum, while Retiro Park, just off the Paseo del Prado, is one of the city's most visited attractions.

"I think it's wonderful, it's part of Spain's heritage that we have to value," said Eloy Moreno, 31, who was walking along the Paseo del Prado on Sunday afternoon.

El Retiro ("The Retreat"), an urban green space with a boating lake enjoyed by both locals and tourists, was originally a palace and gardens built for the personal use of King Felipe IV in the 17th Century.

"I'm not from here and the first thing I was shown was the Retiro, the Prado... Culturally it enriches you, I think it's very good that UNESCO has included it," said Josue Garcia, 26, one of the many tourists visiting the area on Sunday.

The Paseo del Prado "was one of the first boulevards inside the city limits of all European cities and capitals...where all citizens, without distinction of class, could enjoy leisure and a stroll", said Spain's foreign ministry in a statement.

It said the accolade was "especially symbolic" in the current context of the pandemic, as the space had "fully fulfilled the function for which it was originally created".

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was quick to celebrate the news, tweeting "Deserved recognition for a space in the capital that enhances our historic, artistic and cultural legacy".

Meanwhile, Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida tweeted "Proud of our city, and happy for Spain and the legacy of its capital".

(Reporting by Jessica Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton and Alex Richardson)

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