Aranjuez

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Aranjuez
Municipality
Palace of Aranjuez at night
Palace of Aranjuez at night
Flag of Aranjuez
Flag
Coat of arms of Aranjuez
Coat of arms
Aranjuez is located in Spain
Aranjuez
Aranjuez
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 40°02′10″N 3°36′18″W / 40.03611°N 3.60500°W / 40.03611; -3.60500
Country Spain
Autonomous community Madrid
Province Madrid
Comarca Las Vegas
Government
 • Mayor María José Martínez de la Fuente
Area
 • Total 189.1 km2 (73.0 sq mi)
Elevation 494 m (1,621 ft)
Population (2009)
 • Total 54,055
 • Density 290/km2 (740/sq mi)
Demonym Ribereños
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 28300 and 28312
Website Official website

Aranjuez (Spanish pronunciation: [aɾaŋˈxweθ]) is a town and municipality lying 42 km south of Madrid in the southern part of the Madrid Region or Community of Madrid. It is located at the confluence of the Tagus and Jarama rivers, 44 km from Toledo. As of 2009, it had a population of 54,055.

It is one of the Royal Estates of the Crown of Spain since the times of Philip II in 1560.

History[edit]

There are several theories about the origin of the name. The most widely accepted one states that it comes from the Basque language, deriving from arantza ("hawthorn" in English). Other theories say that it comes from Latin Ara Jovis or Ara Iovia, which means Jupiter's altar, but currently the pre-Roman name is preferred.

In 1178, the area was acquired by the Order of Santiago. Ferdinand and Isabella, the "Catholic monarchs", converted Aranjuez into a royal site. It was the spring residence of the kings of Spain from the late 19th century.

During the reign of Philip II of Spain, in the second half of the 16th century, the royal palace was constructed, designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera. About 200 years later the city of Aranjuez itself came into being during the reign of Ferdinand VI; previously, only relatives of the monarch had been allowed to live in Aranjuez. In 1808 after the city revolted, Charles IV of Spain was forced to abdicate in favour of his son Ferdinand VII of Spain.

Aranjuez was reached by a railway line to Madrid in 1851, the so-called Strawberry Train. This was the second railway line in Spain, after that of Barcelona-Mataró (1848).

In 1939, Joaquín Rodrigo composed the Concierto de Aranjuez, which would make Aranjuez famous all over the world.

Railway station
Royal Palace.
Royal Palace.
The Iglesia Real de San Antonio.
Southern hillside park of La Montaña de Aranjuez as viewed from Doce calles /12-way roundabout
Wharf in Tagus River.

Main sites[edit]

The city was declared Conjunto Histórico-Artístico ("Historic Artistic Junction") in 1983. In 2001 UNESCO listed the Aranjuez Cultural landscape as a World Heritage Site.

Mariblanca[edit]

This was the first extension beyond the Royal Palace, along the south bank of the river Tagus (Local spelling Tajo). The royal Church of San Antonio which was built by Philip IV of Spain for both public and ceremonial royal use, stands at the southern end of Plaza San Antonio popularly known as Mariblanca, (possibly because it is a 'sea' of white sand or mar de arena blanca or else an allusion to the female statue of the fountain at the far end, which is the Venus of sculptor Juan Reyna in 1762).

This is now an occasional festival ground which is lined on the west by the quarters of the officers (Casa de Oficios) and knights (Casa de Caballeros now Juzgardos or law courts facility) and on the west by the Casa de las Infantas (built by Charles II of Spain for his sons Gabriel and Antonio, which now houses the tourist office).

To the north is the cobbled Santiago Rusiñol roundabout which links the Madrid road (M305/A4) with Calle de la Reina and the two grand boulevards av.del Principe and av. de las Infantas as well as the roads along the side of Plaza San Antonio/Mariblanca, the south-bound calle Florida and northbound Antigua Carretera de Andalucía.

Plaza de Toros[edit]

View northwards over Plaza de Toros with Royal Palace and La Montaña in the background

One of the earliest in Spain the original was built in 1760 by order of King Charles IV, the refurbished structure was opened by his wife, Maria Luisa of Parma, on 14 May 1797. It had a capacity of 9000 spectators at a time when the population, according to the then prime minister, was only 4226! There are twelve public entrances which lead to three circular galleries, each with 10 stone seating benches. Royalty and their guests enjoyed a private entrance with stairs leading directly to the royal box.

Following a fire in 1809 King Ferdinand VII had it rebuilt, and donated it to the town, who installed a small museum (usually only open to the public Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings at 11.15)[1]

Buildings[edit]

Sights in the city include many buildings in addition to the 17th century Royal Palace and church mentioned above:

  • House of Trades and Knights
  • House of Infantes and Atarfe
  • Pleasure craft Museum
  • Farmhand's House
  • House of Employees (currently Town Hall)
  • Alpajes Church
  • Saint Pascual's Royal Convent
  • Old Saint Charles' Hospital (to be restored)
  • Charles III's Royal Theatre (recently restored, inauguration pending)
  • Supply Market
  • Plaza de Toros and Bullfighting Museum "Una Gran Fiesta"
  • Medinaceli Palace
  • Governor's House (currently University of High Studies Centre Philip II)
  • Mother Queen's old garage, today cultural centre "Isabel de Farnesio"
  • Typical 'corralas' (buildings with running balconies around a central courtyard)
  • Godoy and Osuna Palaces
  • Silvela's Palace (also known as Bavaria's Palace)
  • Royal Country Estate of Saint Isidro

Parks and Gardens[edit]

Numerous parks and gardens are open to the public (detailed in )

  • Isle Garden – to the north of the palace, bordered by the river (beyond wier) and a broad irrigation canal
  • Parterre Garden The formal garden and fountains in front of the palace and to the north of Mariblanca/San Isadro
  • Prince's Garden Along the river to the east, bordered by Calle de la Reina
  • Isabella II's Garden a small formal garden adjacent to Mariblanca/San Isadro
  • Historical thickets and woodlands
  • Centre of Interpretation of the Natural Reserve "El Regajal-Mar de Ontígola"
  • Tree-lined walks and rides through the former nursery gardens (now agriculture) at Doce Calles (12 ways roundabout on M-305 Northbound to Madrid)
Chinese Kiosks in the Prince's Garden
Apollo Fountain in the Prince's Garden

Government and administration[edit]

The barrios or districts of Aranjuez
This is an orientation sketch of the Centro or old town and is not to scale

The city of Aranjuez is governed by a single municipal authority, which, for convenience divides into the several administrative districts which in turn may contain residential estates (urbanizaciones):[citation needed]

  • Centro, includes the royal sites, the bullring and the historic town center, with central market and shopping
  • Vergel – Olivas,
  • Poligon de Las Aves, to the west near the railway station, near Pirelli & Jardin Narvéz
  • Nuevo Aranjuez, to the south, on higher ground
  • Foso – Moreras associated with Garden City of Agfa, and ambitious, but as yet incomplete project
  • Urbanizacion Mirador de Aranjuez A vast, mostly failed (turn of the 20th–21st century) house-building project on a steep southerly slope overlooking the old town.
  • La Montaña – new (turn of the 20th–21st century) district of about 5000 homes (Many 'toxic assets' still vacant) about 3 km (1.9 mi) north of the town. It has the district Hospital-Tajo, a 4-star Hotel-Barcelo with spa and 18-hole golf-course, Gran-Casino, La Finca event venue, a vast commercial centre (Plaza) and car-park which was built but never opened, and a business campus Centro Empresial which contains the small-business support unit APME, a substantial supermarket and a few small businesses. Various shops are to be found elsewhere about the barrio. The residents Association is known as Associacion de Vecino del Barro de la Montaña or AVBM
  • Cortijo de San Isadro, a small residential settlement around a former royal hunting lodge, a volunteer sub-council represents residents interests.

Economy[edit]

The main pillars of the local economy are hotels and tourism. Aranjuez has always been an attractive city for tourists with its Royal Palace, the gardens, the Tagus river and the landscapes. In 2001 this city was designated as a World Heritage Cultural landscape by UNESCO, and since then, tourism has kept on increasing until hit by the 2008 recession. Prior to 2008 much money was spent in order to beautify Aranjuez and many pubs and restaurants were opened (from 2001 to 2004 their number increased 22%).

La Montaña[edit]

This was a 'pharonic' proyecto de Actuación Urbanística (PAU) of some 5000 mixed 'open market homes (Viviendas precio libre or VPL) of which, by 2012, something around one fifth were actually sold. The remainder are now owned by the 'bad bank' SAREB In 2005 a major events and gambling installation Gran Casino was opened in the (northern) barrio Montaña near the existing conference centers of La Finca and Hotel Barcelo (which includes an 18-hole golf course). Nearby, the ambitious Plaza commercial center, built but not fitted, has never opened, and the smaller enterprise center, although open, contains a local supermarket, two cafés and less than a dozen other small businesses. Finally, in March 2008 the University Hospital Tajo was opened. In 2013 this hospital, together with several others medical facilities in the Community of Madrid was threatened with privatisation, provoking considerable public protest known as the Marea Blanca (the white (coat) wave or tide).

Agriculture[edit]

Aranjuez is located on the fertile plain in the deep, high sided valley (cuenca) of the river Tagus (the comarca Vega del Tajo), whose rich soil is suitable for growing wheat and other cereals. There are also horticultural plantations, notably of asparagus and strawberries but also (centered around Villaconejos) vineyards and extensive production of melons. Typical of the neighbouring region of Castilla-La Mancha Aranjuez and the Vega del Tajo also produce a wide variety of products such as sorghum, sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes, artichokes, beets and Jalapeño peppers.

Ermita at the Real Cortijo de San Isidro, about 6 km north of Aranjuez

The Real Cortijo de San Isidro is a settlement about 6 km north of Aranjuez where King Charles III of Spain established a royal farm in 1766, exploiting existing agricultural land. There is a village with a royal chapel (Hermitage) and a wine cellar (Bodegas del Real Cortijo de San Isidro)

Industry[edit]

The proximity to Madrid and the good communications by road and rail made Aranjuez a suitable location for industry: detergents, Mechanical engineering, computer and electrical material, photographic materials, pharmaceutical products, paints and varnishes, sugar refineries, and oil mills.

The majority of the industries are located to the west of the railway station or in the "Gonzalo Chacón" industrial park, in the south. The main existing industries are:

  • Indra Sistemas (Defence and high technology computer & informatics systems).[2]
  • Electrónica Aranjuez (EASA) (High technology & defence electronics), part of grupo Espacio Industrial.[3]
  • Bosch (electrical components for automobiles).[4]
  • Carburos Metálicos Medical & industrial gasses and chemicals.[5]
  • FYSE Pharmaceuticals, a division of / Ercros Industrial S.A.[6]
  • Cortefiel, a garment logistics facility for a retail company marketing brands such as Springfield, women'secret, Fifty Factory, Antonio Miró Studio and Pedro de Hero Fashion[7]
  • Embalajes Castro S.A. Packaging specialists

Previous industrial activities now reduced, mothballed or closed included

  • Lever Brothers (manufacture and packaging of detergents)
  • API Fabricación (Road signalization) part of grupo Imesapi[8]
  • ISN (formerly Frauenhof) trailer manufacture & precision plastics for transport industry[9]
  • Near the station there is also extensive unused railway sidings, warehouses and a sugar refining plant all presumably abandoned in the early part of the 20th century[10]

Transportation[edit]

Road[edit]

Aranjuez is served by the Autovía A-4 (Madrid Cordoba). The exit at Km 37 connects to the to M-305 (regular road which leads via La Montaña district and automotive sales zone (3 km north of city) and then directly to the royal palace. The A4 exit at Km 52 serves the south of the town, as does the toll road Radial R-4. Six main line bus routes serve the locality via the town bus station e Las Infantas. Taxi's and local bus services (of which there are 4 routes) link this to the railway station.

The municipality provides a public pedal bicycle scheme which is free, although there is a modest registration fee.

There is also a tourist Chiquitren road train which tours the town and the extensive jardin del principe royal garden.

Rail[edit]

Aranjuez railway station building is richly ornamented in the neomudéjar style. It was built by the then operator Compañía de los Ferrocarriles de Madrid a Zaragoza y Alicante between 1922 and 1927. It is a recently renovated by RENFE, who operate an hourly shuttle service to Madrid and medium distance services to other destinations. The Strawberry train is a special Steam locomotive Heritage railway service provided for summer visitors and tourists.

River[edit]

Hydrographic demonstration piece near the ancient noria of the barrio of La Montaña, near Hospital Tajo, Aranjuez

The river is obstructed and so used only by a local tourist boat and canoeists. There is an annual fun rafting competition run by the pirates of the tajo

An ancient irrigation system for the royal kitchen-gardens and orchards (now farmland) includes channels and a noria waterwheel, recently restored in a leisure area known as Talud Sur (south bank of) de La Montaña de Aranjuez. The old, tree-lined avenues around are maintained provide shady level walkways.

Local media[edit]

Print media[edit]

Radio stations[edit]

  • Onda Aranjuez, 107.8 FM.
  • Cadena Ser Aranjuez, 89.3 FM.
  • Onda Cero Aranjuez, 90.7 FM.
  • Radio Fuga, 92.1 FM.

Sports facilities[edit]

  • The city has a long tradition of water sports due to its connection with the Tagus river, such as canoeing and rowing. In the Olympic bid of Madrid for the 2012 Olympics, which will be held in London, Aranjuez was the selected site for these sports. In spite of this, there are plans to continue the construction of the necessary sport facilities, which should be finished by 2010.
  • Aranjuez has a football team, Real Aranjuez C.F., which plays in the Local Stadium, called "El Deleite".
  • Nearby Ocaña has a skydiving and gliding centre at the Aerodrome, and most of the skydivers there base themselves in Aranjuez.

Notable people[edit]

Culture[edit]

Traditions[edit]

  • In summer it is traditional to eat dinner in the picnic areas next to the Tagus river. These places are called gangos, a Spanish word used only in Aranjuez.

Festivals[edit]

Mutiny re-enactment / Motin de Aranjuez 2006
  • Alfaranjuez In May – includes a Craft Fair with Folk Aranjuez Traditional Music Festival and a used vehicle fair.
  • San Isidro Labrador day, 15 May, pilgrimage in the nearby hunting lodge of Real Cortijo de San Isidro.
  • San Fernando town festival week, around 30 May, parades and events.
  • 'Early Music Festival Aranjuez, held in about May or June
  • Book Fair Aranjuez, in contrast with the Used Book Fair and Sale, held in September.
  • Mutiny of Aranjuez re-enactment about first week of September, declared a cultural event of National Tourist Interest, which includes
    • a funfair (car park, M-305),
    • sports events (Delete stadium),
    • food and drink stalls (Mariblanca),
    • a concert at the Royal Palace,
    • a traditional or Sacrificio Goyesque (in the Plaza de Toros),
    • a dramatic street re-enactment of the flaming torch attack and capture of Godoy at his Palace, (now Sacrada Familia school in Avenida Principe) with fireworks and costumes inspired by Goya paintings.
    • A fun raft-race organized by the pirates of the Tajo social club

Gastronomy[edit]

Piel de Sapo or Melón Santa.
strawberries /Fresas con nata

Twin cities[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]