Situated on the banks of the river Tajo, Aranjuez was chosen by the Bourbon dynasty as the site of their spring residence, turning it into an administrative framework for the royal residences, which moved la Corte Itinerante every year, following the monarch. The architecture of the Royal Palace and the old town, as well the gardens, groves and orchards that make up the natural surroundings of the town all form part of the “Cultural Landscape” included by UNESCO on its World Heritage Site list. Visitors cannot miss out on a visit to the Palacio Real (the Royal Palace), Museo de Falúas Reales (the Royal Riverboat Museum) and the Casa del Labrador (Labrador House). It is also worth taking a stroll through the old town, declared a Historical-Artistic Site. This includes the Plaza de Toros (The Square of the Bulls) and Mercado de Abastos (the Abastos Market), which is filled with places to sample the local cuisine.
The gardens in Aranjuez are also a must-see. Considered to be the most beautiful of their era and magnificent in just about any season, they have inspired artists including the composer Joaquín Rodrigo and the painter Santiago Rusiñol. They continue to inspire and delight visitors to this day. There are a number of historic gardens surrounding the Royal Palace, each one representing a particular style depending on the era and the taste of the monarch from whom it was commissioned.
An unforgettable experience is catching the Tren de la Fresa (The Strawberry Train) which runs from Madrid to Aranjuez every weekend in spring and autumn. If you also want to visit the town as they did years ago, there’s nothing better than taking a horse-drawn carriage through the old town, the groves and historic orchards that once supplied produce to the Court and still to this day provided local restaurants with produce including asparagus, strawberries and melon.
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