Aranjuez Cultural Landscape, Spain

A great example of the complex relationship between nature and human activity

By UNESCO World Heritage

Water Landscape (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

The Aranjuez Cultural Landscape clearly illustrates the complex relationship between nature and humans who, far from destroying it, have helped, with their intervention, to preserve and enrich it. 

Public park with old white stone columns (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

The old town, the Royal Palace, the historic gardens, the long pathways and the vegetable gardens all form part of this heritage that has its origins in the 16th century.

From the end of the 16th century onwards, the Hispanic monarchy, under Philip II, put a great deal of effort into aggrandising Aranjuez, filling it with buildings and gardens that were built according to the ideological and political ideas of each era.

Bridge (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

The advances made in each century and the desire to achieve progress in the fields of livestock and botany can also be observed in the components of this Cultural Landscape.

Water played an important role in these developments, as did the works that were focused on facilitating its conservation and use.

Aranjuez gardens (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

Vegetable gardens, ornamental gardens and fountains adorn this landscape. The crops grown here have fed the monarchy for centuries, and have benefitted from the most innovative techniques and, also, the quality of the soil.

Collections of cultivated trees (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

The gardens of Aranjuez are magnificent, full of flowers of all kinds brought from all over the world. One of the most important collections of cultivated trees from America and Asia can be found here, living in harmony with native species.

Pathway (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

It was also in the 16th century that the first attempt was made to tidy up the gardens, crops and forests of a territory that was beginning to grow. Paths and walkways, which have since been extended, were added to the area, allowing man to integrate easily with nature.

Gardens of the royal palace (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

It was during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs that Aranjuez came under the protection of the Crown, thus acquiring the status of Royal Site. However, it was Philip II who, years later, laid the foundations of what the city is today. 

He organized the layout and care of the different areas, always stressing the importance of preserving the nature amongst which the city was growing. 

Gardens (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

Philip II's interest in nature manifested itself in the gardens he laid out around the Royal Palace, in which he made use of multiple styles and professionals. The ideas behind the design of the landscape were tied to the rural spirit of the area.

Ornamental fountains (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

After the Habsburgs, the Bourbons also found in Aranjuez a Royal Site in which to spend long periods of time. Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles III contributed to the growth of the city, which slightly changed its look during this time. 

Of this new monarchical period, the Parterre Garden, located to the east of the palace, can be said to stand out.

Aranjuez Palace (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

From the middle of the 18th century, and with the Royal Palace as the centre of development, the population of the surrounding area experienced a growth which was driven by the monarch himself, Ferdinand VI. 

 It was also during this century when the construction of a water supply and a sewage system was first undertaken, and other infrastructures that helped urban development were put in place.

San Antonio de Padua church (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

It can nowadays be seen that the city has been built around a trident of roads which originate at the Royal Palace. This is an urban layout that was being developed in a good part of Europe.

Located next to this trio of streets is the Plaza de San Antonio, where the Casa de Infantes and the Casas de Caballeros y Oficios can be found. 

Pond of the Chinescos (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

Charles III, with the Enlightenment ideology as his creed, succeeded in developing the urban aspects of the city without leaving the countryside behind. 

Also during his reign and on the initiative of his son, the future Charles IV, one of the most emblematic elements of the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape was built: the Prince's Garden, the largest of the complex.

Royal Palace (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

The Royal Palace can be considered to be the architectural jewel of the Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez. Its construction began in 1563, based on a project designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo.

This imposing palace, with its rural style, fits effortlessly into the natural environment in which it was built.

World Heritage inscription (2001) by Aranjuez Cultural LandscapeUNESCO World Heritage

Both the way in which nature and humans were brought together in this idyllic place, and its evolution over the centuries explain why, in 2001, the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by the Comunidad de Madrid: www.turismomadrid.es

More on the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape and World Heritage: whc.unesco.org/en/list/1044/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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