Aranjuez was a surprise
Aranjuez Travel Blog› entry 59 of 113 › view all entries
Aranjuez is an old quarter, which is a Historic-Artistic Site, royal palaces, and gardens on the banks of the Tagus form the layout of Aranjuez. The ideas of the Enlightenment, adapted to the urban development of cities, are embodied here in a balance between nature and man, the watercourses and the design of the gardens, between the woods and the palace architecture. This is why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. The Strawberry Train and the festival to commemorate the Revolt of Aranjuez, of National Tourist Interest, are some of the cultural musts awaiting the visitor to this town in the Madrid region.
The fertile plain of Aranjuez, between the Tagus and Jarama rivers, has been populated since distant times.
One of the jewels of this town near Madrid, and the origin of its splendour, is its royal palace. The current appearance is the result of reconstructions and additions which began with the work of Juan Bautista de Toledo, architect to Felipe II. Over the course of time, other maestros also had a hand in the construction at the service of the Spanish kings, such as Juan de Herrera (designer of the monastery of El Escorial) and Francisco Sabatini (architect to Carlos III, who was responsible for numerous buildings in Madrid).
Another characteristic element of Aranjuez is its gardens. Opposite the east façade of the palace is the Flower-bed Garden, English in style, where the fountain sculptures are outstanding. A further two gardens begin near the buildings. Island Garden, so-called because it stretches between the course of the Tagus and the Ría, is another of the places worth strolling through. More wooded is the Prince's Garden, in a French Gothic style. The course of the river, fountains and squares take you to the Casa del Labrador. It is another small palace in the style of the pavilions of Versailles (París), which houses interesting exhibitions of painting.
The rest of the town also displays the same values, reflected in the layout of its streets, in the purest baroque style. Uniform buildings, tree-lined streets and spacious avenues are some of its features. A layout which makes it easy to visit other major sites, such as the Mariblanca Fountain, the Royal Theatre, the Servants' and Guest Quarters and Stables or the Food Market. There are also other palaces, such as Osuna, Medinaceli or Godoy. Among the religious architecture, fine examples are the Convent of San Pascual (work of Sabatini with paintings by Megs and Tiépolo), and the churches of Alpajés (a brick construction with a baroque portico) and San Antonio (with its great dome and lonic columns).
Aranjuez train station, in a peculiar neomudjar style, is another of the city's monuments.
Aranjuez, a city of the court for centuries, conserves many buildings related to leisure. Its bullring houses the Museum “Aranjuez: a festival”, where the visitor can get a taste of the bullfighting world and the history of leisure in the city. Meanwhile, the former Queen Mother's Coach Houses now form the Isabel de Farnesio Arts Centre, a site of exhibitions, conferences and concerts.
A good time to visit the city is during the celebration of the Festival of the Revolt, declared to be of National Tourist Interest.
The fertile fields which surround Aranjuez supply the local cuisine with artichokes, Brussel sprouts, broad beans, asparagus etc. prepared according to many different recipes. Hunting, so traditional in these woods, offers excellent specimens of pheasant, partridge and quail. Strawberries are another of its specialities.