Balboa Park, named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, dates back to a grant in 1835, making it one of the oldest places in the United States dedicated to public recreation.
Now considered an urban cultural park with natural vegetation, green belts, gardens and walking paths, Balboa Park is also home to many beautiful museums, several theaters and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
The Spanish Colonial Revival style seen in Balboa Park represents an architectural movement, heavily influenced by the Spanish-Moorish architecture of the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish colonial sites.
Incredibly ornate detail above the entrance to the Casa Del Prado, Balboa Park
The park hosted the 1915 Panama–California Exposition and 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, both of which left architectural landmarks – the park and its historic Exposition buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark and National Historic Landmark District in 1977, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the 1915-16 Exposition, several buildings still remain today, these include the California Tower/Cabrillo Bridge complex, the Botanical Building, with its beautiful reflecting pool and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
The Botanical Building (above) and reflecting pool in Balboa Park
The Park was reconfigured for the 1935 Exposition by famed San Diego architect Richard S. Requa. He oversaw the design and construction of many of the new buildings, including the Old Globe Theatre, the International Cottages, and the Spanish Village. Balboa Park frequently holds events throughout its museums, venues, and plazas. Plans are being developed for a year-long celebration of the centennial of the 1915–16 exposition, called the Balboa Park 2015 Celebration.
On a recent morning stroll along the length of El Prado, I took a bunch of photos, that I hope will give a little glimpse into what awaits you, when visiting Balboa Park:
If you plan a visit to Balboa Park, please feel free to download a complimentary Balboa Park Map of the El Prado Buildings.