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Things to do in Aranjuez, Spain

By Joel Hernández |

Visit Aranjuez, walk streets that were traced according to the Enlightened principles of the 18th century, and enjoy a relaxing day among beautiful gardens and palatial architecture.

Spain is a destination that’s rich in history and culture. It’s a multicultural country that’s full of historic trails from different civilizations that inhabited the peninsula. Thus, today it’s a collection of portraits of past eras that are represented in the Roman and Arab that we can find in Ronda, Malaga, or the old city of Sagunto, in Valencia, where you’ll also find medieval remains. Today, DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, invites you to discover Aranjuez, a historic and artistic city with a rich multifaceted past. Get comfortable and prepare to learn about history, palatial architecture, perfectly traced gardens and emblematic monuments.

The time has come to go to Atocha train station in Madrid, and board the Mid-distance Renfe to Aranjuez. For 5 euros you’ll get a one-way ticket for a 35-minute trip to a beautiful historic destination that you can visit on foot.

History of Aranjuez

There are prehistoric remains in Aranjuez; however, the city itself was established in the late Middle Ages. Nowadays, all we can find of this city’s past dates back to the late Renaissance period and the 18th century, a time when the cultural movement of Enlightenment became popular. Said movement influenced the development and tracing of the city.

In 1171, king Alphonse VII forced the territory that is now the city of Aranjuez to be under the yoke of the Order of Santiago, which turned it into a recreational site for its great masters. When Isabel I became queen, the Catholic kings took over Aranjuez and turned it into a private country estate where they spent some time away from the court. When the Bourbon kings gained possession of the crown, Aranjuez lost its splendor and people began to establish in the area. The year 1747 marked the beginning of the urban development of the city, which became a commercial and industrial center. Carefully, they planed its tracing, a characteristic that it still possesses and that gained it recognition as Historic and Artistic Complex in 1984. In 1809 they created a provisional City Hall and it was until 1835 when they formally established the City Hall of Aranjuez.

Location and Weather in Aranjuez

Aranjuez is located 47 kilometers south of Madrid, in Spain, in the riverbanks of the Tajo River, whose course runs across the city. The typical Mediterranean weather guarantees cold and dry winters and warm summers with an average temperature of 25oC.

Tourist Attractions in Aranjuez

The Royal Palace

This construction possesses great cultural and historic wealth. It defined a time of splendor of the city and it’s an emblem of Spanish palatial architecture. It was designed by architect Juan de Herrera, who was also in charge of the construction of the Escorial.

The Royal Palace

The Palace of Aranjuez is a must-see during your tour to Aranjuez. Begin your visit at the Queen’s Guards Hall, the place where the Corps guards used to rest. You’ll also visit the Queen’s Hall, the Music Chamber where they entertained distinguished visitors, the Chambers and the King’s Offices. Don’t miss the Dance Hall and the Gala Dining Room where you won’t have trouble imagining fatuous galas and picturing the magnificence and eccentricity royalty enjoyed. They even had halls and furniture inspired in those of the Alhambra of Granada.

Royal Palace Chapel

Francisco Sabatini built it in substitution of that which had been ordered by King Phillip II. Visits to the chapel are not part of tours to the palace, so if you want to see it, go to the Plaza de Parejas. Observe its paintings, particularly those on the vault, and delight in its neoclassical retables made of marble and decorated in bronze. As you’ll notice, the architectural complex of the Royal Palace is a historic treasure that’s full of art and that teaches us how Spanish royalty lived from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Check out costs and opening hours here.

Royal Palace Chapel

Gardens of Aranjuez

After visiting the Royal Palace, visit the gardens of Aranjuez, idyllic royal bouquets. They’re a series of parks and forests with diverse vegetation that also house several fountains and sculptures that represent characters from classical mythology. They’re located a few meters away from the Royal Palace and the Tajo River. These are part of the cultural landscape of Aranjuez, which was listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. They open year round from 10:00 am until sunset and they include four gardens:

  1. Garden of the Prince – It’s the biggest one and the one that houses the Museum of Faluas and the Laborer’s Royal House, as well as the Chinescos Pond, a beautiful artificial lake.
  2. Garden of the Island – It’s called like that because it’s located on an island in the middle of the Tajo River.
  3. Garden of Parterre – It’s located near the eastern part of the Royal Palace.
  4. Garden of Isabel II
Gardens of Aranjuez

Strawberry Train to Aranjuez

A fun way to travel to Aranjuez is aboard the Strawberry Train. It’s a 20th-century steam locomotive that departs from Madrid and travels to the Aranjuez train station. Enjoy the experience of traveling back in time to relive the first train trip from Madrid. This locomotive service is only available during the weekends in spring and autumn, the best time to also enjoy strawberry tastings. Check itineraries and costs in the official website.

Strawberry Train

Don’t miss the chance to visit Aranjuez, an idyllic city that’s rich in culture and historic landscapes.