About Royal Palace of Aranjuez
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Palacio Real de Aranjuez) is a magnificent Spanish royal palace south of Madrid which is made up of a blend of architectural styles.
It was King Philip II who commissioned the building of Aranjuez Palace in the 16th century, with plans drawn up by Juan Herrera, who was also the architect of El Escorial. However, work would continue through to the reign of Charles III, under whom the Royal Palace of Aranjuez was completed in the 18th century. Indeed, it is the latter work which is most evident today.
History of Royal Palace of Aranjuez
The history of the palace’s royal site began in the 16th century, when the Order of Santiago’s grandmaster Lorenzo I Suarez de Figueroa directed the construction of a grand hunting lodge. This still exists and is an open festival park.
In the following 50 years, Charles I of Spain and then Philip II established a botanical garden and became aware that the fertile meadows of Aranjuez should be capitalised upon.
King Philip began construction of the first palace in an adjacent plot south of the river, and after his death in 1598, works continued as only the royal apartments, chapel, south tower, and part of the western façade had been completed.
A subsequent economic and political crisis and the fall of the royal house of Hapsburg resulted in the project being abandoned.
In 1700, Philip V, the first Bourbon king of Spain, decided to resume its construction, intending to make the palace a rival to Versailles. The king added a new north tower, completed the west façade which defined the structure which would shape the current palace. It was little used, and was nearly destroyed by fire in 1748.
Ferdinand VI rebuilt the palace in the prevailing late baroque style, which constituted of an imposing exterior and a sumptuously furnished interior.
The building today is mainly due to Charles III as a result of his building reform work in Madrid and the modernisation of the Spanish state. He designed the two west wings, which frame the central courtyard, and the overall interior and exterior decoration was hugely enriched in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The palace has remained largely unchanged since then, and was enjoyed by Charles IV and briefly by Alfonso XII and his wife.
Royal Palace of Aranjuez Today
Today, the palace is open for visitors to enjoy. The spaces are generally in very good condition, and highlights include a collection of wedding dresses worn by the Royal family and the famous porcelain room.
You can take a self-guided tour which takes an hour or two. The gardens are also open to be enjoyed free of charge.
Getting to Royal Palace of Aranjuez
The palace is a short 45 minute train ride from Madrid, stopping at Puerta de Atocha, after which, there is a 20 minute walk to the palace. by car, it takes around 50 minutes via the A-4.