Playground of kings and source of inspiration for artists, Aranjuez Gardens are an immense space where art and nature blend in a harmonious landscape. South of Madrid, this evocative site, full of fountains, sculptures and hundred-year-old trees bear witness to the Spanish monarchy's splendour.

Situated on the fertile plains of the Tajo river, and less than an hour from Madrid, is Aranjuez, chosen by the monarchy and Spanish Court for rest and leisure during the 17th and 18th centuries, and whose cultural landscape has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Take a stroll through this royal town and enjoy monumental gems like the Royal Palace and the surrounding gardens, including the El Príncipe, La Isla and El Parterre gardens, a delightful ensemble whose beauty has inspired universal artists, such as the great Joaquín Rodrigo, probably the artist who has best expressed the feelings evoked by the place in his well-known Concierto of Aranjuez.

Next to the Palace, flanked by the tranquil waters of the Tajo River, is the La Isla Garden, considered the most important and typical of the Hapsburgs era (16th century). White marble nymphs adorn the staircase leading to this cool orchard, where queen Isabel II would go for walks. The box tree's array of scents fills the paths (laid out in grid formation), while the joyful, constant rumour of fountains and waterfalls can be heard in the background. Take a stroll through this garden and you will discover intimate spots adorned with mythological sculptures making this suggestive isle even more beautiful.

A small gate opens on to El Parterre Garden, located in front of the Palace façade, with endless paths lined with geometrically-shaped hedges, following the French trend of the era. The paths that criss-cross the garden are silent witnesses to the comings and goings of past monarchs and are adorned with marble vases, bright, colourful flowers and beautiful fountains, such as the Hércules and Ceres, allegories of Classical culture.

There is nothing better than a stroll through the El Príncipe Garden, to calm your soul, especially in autumn when the wide paths are like carpets of yellow and ochre leaves. Its hundred and fifty hectares are a paradise of peace, designed in the English style of the 18th century and form a serene landscape accompanied by the whisper of the Tajo River. The garden has large areas for hunting, in contrast to the secluded dining pavilions, more aimed at solitary meditation, and all accompanied by the song of starlings and pheasants. Among the many secrets hidden in this surprising, suggestive and immense garden, there are a wide variety of trees, fountains, ponds and monuments such as the Casa del Labrador.

A ride on the 19th century steam-driven Strawberry Train, that runs from Madrid to the Royal Residence of Aranjuez from May to October, is an extra touch that will make a visit to the site even more attractive.

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