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Aranjuez: historical profile

Discover Aranjuez


The Royal Precincts and Villa de Aranjuez, a city in the Community of Madrid with more than 50,000 inhabitants, have always been a privileged enclave due to its proximity to the Tagus and Jarama rivers. Its relationship with water has allowed it to be a coveted place since the dawn of history, and its relationship with the Spanish monarchy has endowed it with a unique combination of landscape, architectural and artistic works that helped it to be declared a "World Heritage Cultural Landscape” by UNESCO in 2001.


Historical profile


We place the origin of Aranjuez in the fourteenth century when the Order of Santiago began the construction of its Master House on the banks of the Tagus. This construction and the annexed territories passed into royal hands when Ferdinand the Catholic became Perpetual Master of the Order.

This first link to royalty led to the development of the site, in which each monarch left his mark, ordering spaces and carrying out new constructions. Philip II determined that this place was a "Royal Precinct", creating spectacular tree-lined avenues and well-kept gardens with numerous sculptures and monumental fountains. The construction of the Palace began under his reign; a commission assumed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, the same architect who began the El Escorial Monastery.

In the 18th century, the arrival of the Bourbons to the throne, with Philip V, brought a new splendor to Aranjuez. Ferdinand VI initiated the reticulated division of the urban area, and his successors Charles III, Charles IV and Isabella II, contributed to giving the buildings and spaces their current appearance.

Over all these years, the condition of the Royal Precinct was linked to an ordinance that prohibited the free settlement of people in this town. This prohibition, which was endorsed at the beginning of the 18th century, was gradually abandoned, in such a way that the first City Council, in the manner common in the rest of the Kingdom, was proclaimed by Napoleon in 1808. The Constitution of 1812 revalidated this institution, but the abolition of this Constitution by Ferdinand VII made it fall back into disuse. It was not until 1836, with the Regency of Maria Christina and a new constitutional government, that the City Council of Aranjuez was definitively reinstated, assigned to the province of Madrid since 1838.

Two historical milestones should be highlighted: the riot of 1808, which led to the fall of the prime minister, Manuel de Godoy, and the inauguration in 1851 of the Madrid-Aranjuez railway—our Strawberry Train.


Semblanza histórica de Aranjuez