12/27/2011 08:50 am ET

A New Park, Madrid Rio, Transforms Spain's Capital City

Twenty-seven miles of new tunnels were dug; countless tons of granite installed to make paths and fountains; some 8,000 pine trees planted.

A new, elegantly simple boathouse has been designed, and a 19th-century complex of brick and glass buildings, including a derelict slaughterhouse and greenhouse, are now being renovated to house art studios and a dance theater.

Add to this wading pools for toddlers that landlocked Madrid parents already fondly call "the beach," and a paved plaza, in patterned tiles, large enough to fit a few hundred thousand people.