Tag Archives: Royal Palace

Outside Madrid: Royal Town of Aranjuez

Aranzuez isn’t a huge, highly sought-after town, but it’s far from being hidden and obscure. It is actually one jewel of a Spanish pueblo, being the site of a spectacular royal palace. Still, many would consider it as low-key compared to the more popular day trip destinations like Toledo, Segovia, or even the faraway exciting getaways like Santiago de Compostela.

There’s no bit of a doubt, however, that this town 80 kilometers away from Madrid can hold its own, boasting of some of the most alluring sites and attractions.

Aranjuez, Madrid and its Royal Palace

aranjuez palace in plaza de las parejasThis town presents a great appeal to those who are interested in royal history, and this is thru the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, an 18th century palace that once served as the residence of the King of Spain. With the collaboration of distinguished Spanish architects such as  Juan Herrera, Juan Bautista de Toledo, and Francesco Sabatini, the royal edifice was built using a  mix of Renaissance and French style in its design.

It was in 1523 when the palace was officially declared the royal property of the Spanish Monarchy.  Beloved royalties who lived and died there were Elisabeth Fernese, wife of Philip V and Elizabeth of Valois, wife of Philip II.  Likewise, the Palacio Real was the site of the signing of various important treaties.

If you haven’t been to Aranjuez, Spain, it’s high time that you do. The Palacio Real will certainly amaze you. it is easy to find since it is right in the midst, as if to assert its prime importance as the town’s top tourist attraction.

Apart from the palace, other major attractions are its sprawling plazas, the Tagus River, and the Casa del Labrador.

Where to start your Aranjuez tour

imageThe Ayuntamiento Building at Plaza de Constitucion. The statue in front is Alfonso XII

Aranjuez is less than an hour away – whether by bus or by train. It’s one of those charming towns that are near Madrid, and very easy to reach — you’ll be there even before you know it.

You might want to start your tour at the Plaza de la Constitution, where you can see the Ayuntamiento — simple yet stately in its facade. On one side of the square stands a metal board marked on which is a map specifying all the major places of interest to see. Or you can head straight to the tourism office for a tour map plus instructions and advices on how to get around the town.

I spent the whole day exploring Aranjuez, and had a great time discovering all the reasons why the whole town was declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by the UNESCO. The Royal Palace was just impressive. You can see the grandness of the structure from the pictures that I took. I can proudly say that my shots of the palace are all postcard-worthy. Equally impressive are the gardens and plazas, the surrounding bodies of waters, and the Casas.

Aranjuez might be small, but it can very well compete with the much larger and more touristy Spanish towns. Needless to say, it must be one the first town-members of the community of Madrid that you must visit. Engaging locals, lots of eager tourists, amazing tourist attractions, what more can you ask for? Add Aranjuez to your must-see town list, do visit and explore it, and I assure you it is all worth your while.

What to see in Aranjuez, Spain

1. Royal Palace of Aranjuez

imagePalacio Real de Aranjuez in Spanish, this UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site was once the King’s official residence. One of the more popular Royal Sites, it now serves as a museum and is open to the public.

2. Iglesia de San Antonio

imageKing Ferdinand VI assigned Spanish architects Gonzalez Velazquez and Santiago Bonavia to build what was intended as a royal church, and one dedicated to San Antonio de Padua – St. Anthony´s Church or Iglesia de San Antonio. This Italian-inspired church from the 1700’s sprawls in one end of the Plaza de San Antonio. Nearby is the Tourism Office.

3. Iglesia de Alpajes

imageThe Alpajes Church, also called the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, is a small church located in the old Alpajes quarter. Eventually, the said quarter was incorporated into the expanded Aranjuez town.

4. Parterre Garden

imageThe beautiful Parterre Garden is the most colorful of all that surround the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, I must say. It must be where beautiful flowers of all types and hues are found. The flowers were in blooming and exploding in all colors that the whole garden was such a fascinating sight. Parterre is in front of the West portion of the Palace.

5. Jardin del Principe

imageLiterally, it means the Prince’s Garden. The Jardin was a pet project of Charles IV which started when he was still the Prince of Asturias. Consisting of 150 hectares of land, it must have been the largest Madrid garden that I’ve seen so far. It took 19 years to build the garden, and was finished in 1908, at the time when Charles finally became king.

6. Casa del Labrador

Casa del Labrador, Aranjuez, Community of Madrid, SpainOne of the royal family of Spain´s favorite residences in Madrid, the Casa del Labrador is a World Heritage site. Public viewing and visits are allowed although I wasn’t able to because I visited Aranjuez on a Monday, when most of the sites are closed.

7. Jardin de la Isla

imageA beautiful garden found in the northern portion of the palace, the Jardin de la Isla is so-called because it is situated in the middle of bodies of water, by the Tagus River or Rio Tajo, and a man-made river.

8. Cascada de las Castanuelas

imageLocated beside the Jardin de la Isla, the Cascades was built to regulate the course of the Tagus River and to collect water for the gardens.

9. Tagus River

imageRio Tajo in Spanish, it is one of the main  bodies of water that surround the palace. Tagus River is of utmost importance to Aranjuez’ environment as it sustains the lives of a number of animal varieties, especially the waterfowl.

How to get to Aranjuez, Spain:

imageVia Bus: Take the 423 bus, found at Estacion Sur, Madrid’s biggest bus station. The latter can be reached via Metro Madrid Linea 6, at Mendez Alvaro.

Fare is 4.20 euros, and tickets are bought on the bus itself.

Via Train: Cercania train tickets are available at the ticketing counters of Chamartin and Atocha stations. Traveling by train is more or less the same as that with bus travel – around an hour.

For specific journey schedules and ticket prices, please refer to Cercania’s website.

Map of Royal Palace of Aranjuez:

Royal Palace of Madrid – Jewel of Spain

imageSimply put, Spain is one of the best vacation options here in Europe, whether you’re traveling as an individual or flying in with your family or friends. What’s interesting about the country is that impressive attractions are not only found in Madrid, its capital, and other large cities, but also in small towns, barrios, and pueblos. One of the major attractions to see is the Palacio Real Madrid — once the residence of the Familia Real de Espana, and now a sought-after museum and considered by many as the  royal jewel of Spain.

Royal Palace of Madrid

imageIf you’re looking for some royal Spanish history to soak into, a must-see within the vibrant city of Madrid is the Royal Palace. Under the administration of the Ministry of the President’s Patrimonio National, it was once the  residence of the Spanish royal family. These days, however,  it functions as a venue for official ceremonies and  events.

Interesting Facts about Palacio Real de Madrid

imageDid you know that the palace covers a wide area of roughly 135,000 square meters? This easily renders it as one of the largest in Europe. It has about 2,800 lavishly decorated rooms, a good number of which the public has access to for general viewing. Entry of visitors is via the Plaza de la Armeria side of the palace.

imageHere are some other important trivia about the royal edifice:

1. Palaces built by the Moors are scattered all over Spain, including Madrid. In fact, it was an Alcazar or Moorish castle/fortress that once stood in the palace’s current location.

2. After the fortress was destroyed by a fire in the 18th Century, Spain’s ruler then, King Philips V, had reconstruction work done with the new design of the palace patterned loosely after France’s own extravagant palace – the Versailles.

3. It was the  royal residence up to 1931, when the King and his family decided to take residence at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, located in the outskirts of the capital. The the Real Palacio, it is under the administration of Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional.

image4. Reconstruction was started by Italian architect Filippo Juvarra and finished by another architect, Francesco Sabatini. The latter, also from Italy, was likewise the designer of the famous Jardines de Sabatini, the official royal garden.

5. A strong rival to top Spanish museums, on display everywhere the palace are a rich collection of gold and silver items, expensive jewels, luxurious furniture, and a wide array of valuable painting from revered artists like Velazquez, Giordano and Goya.

6. The Royal Palace of Madrid has a coveted location within Madrid, if I must say. It is near charming and quaint plazas, the Plaza del Oriente and Plaza de Isabel II and beautiful and luscious gardens, the Sabatini Gardens and Campo del Moro. It has one of the most spectacular Spanish churches in its front, the Almudena Cathedral, the underground museum Museo de los Canos del Peral that’s situated at Madrid Metro Opera, and a good choice of cafes and restaurantes within the vicinity.

Nearby Madrid Attractions

imageAlmudena Catedral, or Sta Maria la Real de La Almudena, Madrid’s Catholic Cathedral

imagePlaza del oriente, the square fronting the Royal Palace
imageStatue of Philips IV and his horse, located in the midst of Plaza del Oriente
imageTeatro Real Madrid (also known as the Royal Thetre) borders the Plaza del Oriente and fronts the palace

imageJardines de Sabatini, an integral part of the palace, sprawls on its northern portion

imageChalet de la Reina at Campo del Moro, a garden beside the palace and located at Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto

Easily, Madrid is filled with museums, plazas, alcazars, and churches. Not only does this afford vacationers the chance to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation; but the city also allows everyone to have a deeper knowledge of the rich Castilian history and culture. And if indeed, you’re staying in the city even for just a few days, do pass by the Royal Palace of Madrid.

Now touted as one of the city’s major museums, thousands upon thousands of visitors go to the site every year. Needless to say, the Palacio Real Madrid is one of the most precious monuments the city has ever possessed.

Opening Hours:

October to March – 10AM to 6PM
April to September – 10AM to 8PM

Royal Palace Madrid Tickets – Admission Prices and Admission Fees

General Admission: 11 euros

Reduced price of 6 euros: Available to children aged 5 to 16, seniors of EU and Latin American countries aged over 65, students under the age of 25

Free admission: Available to children below five years old, teachers, people with disability, and unemployed persons.

You may also gain free access if you go to the site from Monday to Thursday, starting at 4PM up to 6PM (months of October through March); and the same days, from 6PM to 8PM (from April to September). This is applicable only to EU and Latin American citizens.

How to go:

Direccion: Calle de Bailen, Madrid
Nearest Metro Station: Opera (next nearest is Vodafone Sol)

Mapa:

Jardines de Sabatini y del Campo del Moro, and My Thoughts on Madrid’s Hot Summer

Summer in Madrid is almost here. And the thought exasperates me. While the impending season may set the numerous lot to a euphoric mood, I feel the opposite if only for one thing – it makes blogging more tedious. Let me point out the reasons. The glare from the sun is disturbing – it forces me to squint my eyes, rendering some of my shots out of focus, and thus, delivering inferior results. The sweltering temperature wears me down to major tiredness, and before you know it,lethargy and ennui set in. Ultimately, this leads to my becoming less productive.

I could rant on and on, yet the fact remains that the season is inevitable; its heat, unavoidable. There’s no use whining over something that’s not even remotely life-changing, or threatening. Hence, here’s reluctantly welcoming the next three months of hotness. I’ll try to bear Madrid’s summer season, which as a matter of fact, is hardly bearable.

Summer isn’t all that bad, truth to tell. Lucid light helps achieve clearer, livelier photographs – a boon for my blog. Pictures are devoid of unwanted shadows, uneven colors, and blurs. Of course, quality shots don’t always require too much illumination. Strong lighting, in fact, can wreck havoc to what could be a beautiful photo. Shots taken at extremely bright high noon can make the details in your photographs unrecognizable, or disappear altogether. In order to obtain an evenly-lit photo with beautiful shadows, try shooting in the early morning or late afternoon.

Time to head to Madrid Gardens

Summertime is when the afternoons are hot and humid, and the streets of Spain’s capital breathe off discomfortingly hot vapors, enticing people to rush to cool places such as Madrid’s gardens and parks. Good thing that the city has some of the best gardens that it can offer. While orhers ask for entrance fees like the Real Botanical garden, many are free. The best for me is El Retiro, Madrid’s national park, which literally is an oversized garden. I’m amazed by its vastness in area – the wide open spaces, the man-made lake, the beautiful sculptures, the structures – everything inside El Retiro fascinates that people want to visit the park over and over.

Apart from Buen Retiro, two other gardens are worth visiting for their  stunning views, lush flora, and refreshingly cool shades. These are the Jardin de Sabatini and Campo Del Moro, both of which are near the Palacio Real.

Jardines de Sabatini

Adjacent to the palace is the Jardines de Sabatini, or the Sabatini Gardens. It boasts of tall trees, intricately trimmed hedges, fountains, and a pond. Benches abound and are found all over the park, but mainly along pathways and beneath trees.  After a long day of visiting nearby Madrid sites and attractions such as Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Alcala, Gran Via, Plaza de Espana, Palacio de Cibeles, and the Palacio Real itself, many tourists decide that their final stop for the day is Sabatini.

Horarios: Open to the public everyday, from 9:00AM to 9:00PM

Direccion: Calle de Bailén, Madrid

How to go: Take the Metro and alight at Opera Station. Walk through Plaza Oriente to reach Calle Bailen and Palacio Real de Madrid. On its immediate left is the garden. You can also enter via the Cuesta San Vicente Gate.

Map:

imageThe Garden of Sabatini is open all year long. It experiences a peak in the number of visitors during the summer season
image Hedges typically have elaborate designs. The Jardines de Sabatini’s are much simpler, with linear and angular designs. They are impressive, just the same – a feast to the eyes
imageThe statue of Alfonso X de Castilla, or Alfonso the Wise. He ruled over the Spanish regions of Castilla, Leon, and Galicia during the mid-13th century

imageThe ornamental trees, shrubs and hedges are well-maintained and manicured, making this scenery one of the many picture-perfect views of the garden

imageTheir designs might be simple,still, the hedges of Sabatini are comparable if not better than those in the gardens in France. If only for its hedges, the garden adds significant beauty to the stately Palacio Real de Madrid

imageBright Red carnations adorn the wide pathway that leads to that part of garden nearest the  Palacio Real

imageGates to the garden along Paseo de la Virgen de Puerta
imageThe main gates to the Sabatini Gardens of Madrid, Spain at Calle Bailen, very near Palacio Real

imageI took notice of the beautiful inhabitant of the fountain near the garden’s gates

image The Sabatini Garden is the site to a number of  shows and state functions in Madrid 

imageSabatini Restaurant in front of the Garden Entrance

Campo del Moro

The Campo del Moro is located at the back of the Palacio Real. The garden was so-called because it was the area where Moslem armies were formed to invade the Christian cities of Alcazar and Madrid.

Eventually, it was developed as a hunting ground for the royal family. Every summer, a large influx of visitors is expected to enjoy the garden as a place of rest and recreation after a tiring tour of Madrid. The garden has many benches situated underneath tall trees, providing cool and refreshing shades.  Just like the Sabatini Garden, Campo del Moro is beautifully green all over, boasting of thousands of plant and tree varieties.

As a blogger, I label the jardin a paradise, what with its many beautiful scenery and spots. Its winding dirt roads and paths, for instance,are perfect subjects of photography – they are dreamy and romantic. There are some portions of the pathways where trees that line the sides seem to embrace each other, entangling their branches and twigs to form a shining bright green roof made out of overlapping leaves, hovering the length of the road.

If you’ll check your map book, you’d see how proximate the garden is to the Royal Palace. Unfortunately, the entrance is far, found along Paseo de la Virgen de Puerto. If your starting point is the palace, you must pass through a number of streets, Calle Bailen, Cuesta de San Vincente, y Virgen de Puerto, before you can actually reach it. By contrast, the entrance gate to Sabatini is right along Calle Bailen, very near the Palacio Real.

Horarios: Open Monday to Sunday, from 10:00AM to 10:00PM
Direccion: Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto 28058 Madrid
How to go: Take Metro train and descend at Principe Pio Station. Cross the corner of Cuesta San Vicente, by Puerta de San Vicente. Walk a few meters through Paseo de la Virgen de Puerto and this will bring you to the entrance to the garden.
Map:

imageA map of the interior of Jardines del Campo del Moro serves to guide visitors as they tour the garden
imageFuente de las Conchas is a beautiful accent to the Garden. It is connected to the palacio by the Pradera de las Vistas del Sol. The fountain was initially installed at the palace of Don Luis of Boadilla del Monte

image Bare trees line up the pathway near the pradera of the Campo del MoroimageWith long tail feathers at rest (not fanned), the peacock (or Pavo Real in Spanish) nestles comfortably onto the grasses

image It pays to be patience. After waiting for more than an hour,  garden’s fabulously-feathered resident finally decided to show off by fanning its tail feathers. It’s not the best shot, but this I’ll have to make do. They say a squeaking peacock with a fanned tail is a threatened guy (peacocks are male). So, I and everybody else around kept our distance as we took pictures
image In 1892, created was the Chateau o La Casita de la Reina, a wooden house made as a resting place for the of Her Royal Highness the Queen of Spain
image Flower beds of fully-bloomed white carnation line the side of pradera of Campo del Moro

image The sun’s rays filter through and bounce off the leaves of the trees and bushes found along both sides of the narrow road. This results in a somewhat illusion of a bright green luminescence lighting up the way and ready to mesmerize anyone that passes through

After a few days of a busted server (web host’s), I was finally able to finish and post this article. The same last days saw how the cold wind had blown its last. It’s apparent that the afternoons had become hotter; the breeze, warmer. The sun has now swelled into a throbbing, gigantic scorcher up in the sky, ready to sear anything that its blazing rays touch. The weather has become intolerable that I had to cut short my trip to the parks and be content with everything I gathered for this article. Now I’m readying my next post (on Atocha) in the comfort of my room.

Assessing the past week so far, I think it’s going to be a really hot summer in Madrid. Still, despite the searing heat, admittedly that we are moving to a better weather. Since blogs are more about pictures than words, the bright and clear summer days will definitely help me come up with quality photos for my website.

The fact is that many consider summer as a huge deal of a season, and plan their next three months around either going abroad for a vacation, or touring Spain.  In my case, I guess I’ll just have to adapt with the weather change. Just a few days more, and I’d be fully acclimatized. And off I go again to continue with my exploration of the city. As it is, there are so many more sites and attractions to discover, take pictures of, and blog about. Madrid never seems to run out of things extraordinary. There must still be tons of food to taste, barrios to discover, traditions to appreciate, and locals to mingle and blend in. All this will be easier to do now that summertime is upon us – when Madrid is (hopefully for me) at its best.