Welcome from Ms. María José Martínez de la Fuente
Mayoress-President of the Town Council of the Royal Site and Town of Aranjuez
Aranjuez is an artistic, natural and historical reference of great tradition. However, in recent years its perception has changed and has been enriched, both by its consideration as a cultural landscape and by the inscription of Aranjuez on the World Heritage List on 14 December 2001.
This signifies recognition of the universal and exceptional value of the site, as well as its authenticity and integrity, i.e. the high quality of conservation and sustainable use of the site.
Aranjuez's link to the Spanish Crown has meant that since the times of Charles V and Philip II it has been a place of creation and a confluence of different artistic currents and has served as a reference and inspiration for other works of man in the world, and not only gardens, architecture and town planning, but also other manifestations that are not attached to the territory, such as gastronomy, science, painting, music and literature.
I would also like to point out another unique feature among other World Heritage Sites in Spain: Aranjuez is the first cultural landscape in Spain to be recognised by UNESCO. Only 100 cultural landscapes in the world have this distinction.
I hope that this new image encourages you to come to our city, to enjoy its open spaces, its gastronomy, to live the visit as an accumulation of experiences and that it moves you to share and spread the benefits of this cultural landscape of Aranjuez, a World Heritage Site of which we are all a part.
María José Martínez de la Fuente
City Council of the Royal Site and Town of Aranjuez
The Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez is the first Cultural Landscape in Spain to be recognised by UNESCO, a place of complete harmony between nature and the work of man. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2001.
The shaping of this cultural landscape began during the reign of Philip II. Ferdinand VI, Charles III and Isabella II also left their mark on Aranjuez.
The Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez is made up of an extensive territory, the axis of which is the Tagus River. There are three areas of great natural and monumental interest. The best known is the palace nucleus (Palace, Casas de Oficios and Patio de Caballeros, Casa del Labrador) and the royal gardens (Príncipe, Rey, Isla, Parterre, Princesita).
Of great historical interest is the area of the orchards, tree-lined streets and squares, as well as the hydraulic system that makes this orchard possible. They were laid out in the 16th century following Renaissance principles of geometry and perspective. The vast space is the oldest example of large-scale gardening in the world.
Foto: Aranjuez City Council
The third element of the cultural landscape of Aranjuez is the courtly city, an 18th century historic quarter inspired by the classical principles of the ideal city, with grid streets. The Royal Theatre, the bullring, the market, the hospital of San Carlos, palaces, hotels and service buildings, churches and convents dot the streets of a cosmopolitan and enlightened city, to which diplomats, artists and travellers flocked. And in the centre, the Plaza de San Antonio, the largest classical arcaded square in Spain.
The exceptional nature and universality of Aranjuez, recognised by UNESCO, is due, firstly, to the masterpiece status of its town planning, gardens and architecture. But this environment has also witnessed scientific, cultural and technological innovation: botany, agricultural science, gastronomy, hydraulic engineering and the railway. This unique environment has meant that, since the 16th century, Aranjuez has been a leisure and cultural reference point that has attracted artists, writers and musicians, who have found their inspiration here: among many, Cervantes, Schiller, Velázquez, Goya, Farinelli, Santiago Rusiñol, with Maestro Rodrigo and his famous Concierto de Aranjuez standing out.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Aranjuez is an enclave with a great tourist tradition. It was included in the itineraries of the Grand Tour in the mid-18th century. During the 19th century it was included in the most popular travellers' guides, such as the Baedeker. The Madrid-Aranjuez railway connection, which opened in 1851, led to an influx of travellers on this modern means of transport.
Today it is a city very well communicated by train and road, with a wide range of hotels and restaurants that offer visitors its own gastronomy, based on the vegetable garden and very elaborate tourist resources, such as guided tours, boat trips or hot-air balloon flights.
This cultural landscape of Aranjuez, over the centuries, has evolved from a private use by the kings for their recreation (fishing, hunting, strolls, festivals) to an openness that reaches the whole of humanity, today in the 21st century.
Strolling through its gardens and tree-lined streets, enjoying its cultural shows, taking part in the Festivities of the Mutiny, of International Tourist Interest, practising sports on the river, discovering its gastronomy in the numerous bars and restaurants of the city, is a complete, varied and attractive experience for a few days of rest and leisure.