Location of Aranjuez within Spain / Community of Madrid

Coordinates: 40°02′00″N 3°36′10″W / 40.03333°N 3.60278°W / 40.03333; -3.60278Coordinates: 40°02′00″N 3°36′10″W / 40.03333°N 3.60278°W / 40.03333; -3.60278
Country  Spain
Autonomous Community  Community of Madrid
Comarca Las Vegas
Municipality Aranjuez
  Mayor Cristina Moreno Moreno (PSOE)
  Total 201.11 km2 (77.65 sq mi)
Elevation 495 m (1,624 ft)
Population (2015)
  Total 58,168
  Density 290/km2 (750/sq mi)
Demonym(s) ribereño, arancentano
Patron saint Nuestra Señora de las Angustias (September 15)

Aranjuez (Spanish pronunciation: [aɾaŋˈxweθ]) also called the Royal Site of Aranjuez, is a city and municipality, capital of the Las Vegas comarca, in the southern part of the Community of Madrid, Spain. It is located at the confluence of the Tagus and Jarama rivers, lying 42 kilometres (26 mi) south of Madrid, and 44 kilometres (27 mi) from Toledo. As of 2009, it had a population of 54,055. It is the 17th largest city in Community of Madrid and the autonomous community's most populous and important urban center outside Greater Madrid Area.

It has been one of the Royal Estates of the Crown of Spain since the times of Philip II in 1560. This town since the Enlightenment was inhabited exclusively by the Kings and the nobility.

The Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.


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). Another theory, attributed to Padre Martín Sarmiento, a Benedictine Scholar who lived about a century after the founder of Aranjuez, Philip II of Spain, claims the origin to be from Latin Ara Jovis or Ara Iovia, which means the altar of the Roman god Jupiter also known as Zeus. However the pre-Roman derivation is generally 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 and the name of the enlarged settlement was changed from Alpajes to Aranjuez. The site was initially designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo and completed by Juan de Herrera. The town, or Villa was extensively redesigned in the 18th century by Santiago Bonavía

Bourbon Aranjuez

Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
Official name: Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Designated 2001 (25th session)
Reference no. 1044
State Party Spain
Region Europe and North America

Many significant events occurred here during the Enlightenment in Spain:

Fall and imprisonment of the Prince of Peace (Mutiny of Aranjuez) by Francisco de Paula Martí and Zacarías Velázquez in 1814.

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

Railway station
Wharf in Tagus River.

Main sites

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.


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 Juzgados 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

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

A bullring, 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, which installed a small museum (usually only open to the public Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings at 11.15)[1]


Teatro Carlos III theatre built during Charles III's reign.

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

Parks and gardens

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

Chinese Kiosks in 18th-century Jardín del Príncipe garden.

Government and administration

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):


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

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).


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 on 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.

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)


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:

Previous industrial activities now reduced, mothballed or closed included


18th century and 21st century street sign in Aranjuez

Aranjuez enjoys excellent road and rail links to the Spanish capital city of Madrid.


Aranjuez is served by the public Autovía A-4 (Madrid Cordoba) The exit at kilometre 37 connects to the 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 kilometre 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 bus station, Las Infantas. Taxis and local bus services (four routes) link to the railway station.

The municipality provides a free public pedal bicycle scheme 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.


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 was 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.


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

Print media

Radio stations

Sports facilities

Notable people


Painting of one of these Falúa ships in Aranjuez by Francesco Battaglioli in 1756.
Painting of a Falúa ship in Aranjuez by Fernando Bambrilla in 1830.

The Austrian writer PETER HANDKE, in 2013, wrote the play DIE SCHOENEN TAGE VON ARANJUEZ,/ THE BEAUTIFUL DAYS OF ARANJUEZ which Michael Roloff translated into English and which also exists, so far, in Spanish, French, Serbian translations.'s plays and awards?




Piel de Sapo or Melón Santa.
strawberries /Fresas con nata
Mutiny of Aranjuez re-enactment / Motín de Aranjuez 2006


Twin towns - sister cities

Town State/Region Country
Écija  Andalusia  Spain
Le Pecq  Yvelines  France

Other towns within the municipality


External links

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