Earth : Europe : Iberia : Spain : Central Spain : Community of Madrid : Aranjuez
Aranjuez is an historic municipality (|population ~47,000) at the confluence of the Tagus | Tajo and Jarama | Jarama rivers. It is about 50 km south of Madrid in Spain and difficult for Anglophones to pronounce: Help:IPA for Spanish|aɾaŋˈxweθ sounds something like a'ran'with!.
Nestling in the wide, flat-bottomed valley at the confluence of the Tagus (locally Tajo) and Jarama rivers, in an exquisite natural setting, the town of Aranjuez, has been declared a UNESCO Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site since 2001.
The Royal Estate and Villa was once the exclusive springtime residence of royalty and its 700 families of servants. In 1747 the town started to become the modern thriving city of today, but retaining the outstanding cultural and sporting opportunities for residents and visitors in an environment of great natural interest once reserved to courtiers and their king.
All so called 'ribereños' still strive to serve everyone as delightfully as they once served the nobility, and especially those who seek know the history, architecture, and the culture that created its incomparably sublime buildings, gardens, and landscapes - Aranjuez offers food for thought combined with serenity, comfort and fine cuisine.
The main passenger terminal is Madrid–Barajas Airport], to the west of the capital city, which links via a toll-road to the thee concentric peripheral routes M-50 (outer) M-40 and M-30 (inner) autovías. There are also direct rail and metro services from Terminal 4.
In summer, RENFE occasionally run the [[W|Strawberry train] - la tren de la fresa is a steam-train tourist service from Madrid
Use either M-50, M-40, or M-30 peripheral major roads around Madrid which connect to A-4 (Autovia Sur/direction Cordoba) use exit at Km 37 (under arched footbridge) to M-305 ( regular road direction Aranjuez - take care of tight bend left and 2 lanes converging).
This leads via La Montaña district and automotive sales zone (3Km north of city) and then directly to the royal palace (recommended: use free surface car-park on left immediately after road-width restriction or continue into monumental zone then turn right under arch by church to paid underground parking in Calle Valeras).
For the south (industrial area) of town continue on A4 to next exit (or use toll road R-4).
Aranjuez is fairly flat and accessible with many fine gardens and parks as well as those of the royal palace complex. For a swift introduction, there is the tourist chiquitren or wagon-train which optionally offers a combined ticket which includes some museum entry and riverboat services. This leaves daily, all year round, from behind the Royal Palace, through the town and around the Jardin del Principe royal gardens, and includes a recorded commentary in Spanish and English. The Jardin de la Isla is a more formal garden with some notable fountains joining the palace.
Aranjuez municipality has a free cycle hire service called [Aranbike], but there is an initial registration fee, and the process is a very clumpy operation and all in Spanish - but don't dispair1 Scroll down their web-page several meters you can download the PDF application form, which is four (yes! Four!) almost identical sheets - so a photocopier might be helpful. These are adult size machines, and persons under 14 years of age need a parent or guardian as guarantor. You will need a valid passport and bank-card (targeta de credito/debito)
[Download the official cycle route-map -- There lockable park stations around town and in some hotels.
To the north, beyond the rotunda Roseñol cobbled roundabout (near the riverside tourist resturant 'el Rana Verde) are the royal vegetable gardens (now farmland). These are served by protected royal rides (now restricted to pedestrian and bicycle us). As well as being level, they boast elegant, tree-lined, shade and shingle surfaces. Radiating like a clock from the Doce Calles (12 ways) roundabout/kiosk-bar, some border the river, whilst others lead to a new- park - the steep slope known as talud sur de la Montaña which has an ancient water-wheel and path-extensions all bicycle or wheelchair accessible and suitable for the fitter users.
Chiquitren and Boat Trip
The tourist road-train Operates all year round from about 10am. with commentaries in Spanish and English but its wagons are open and unheated
This is a small town which supports independent traders rather than multiple-stores so some unusual http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/s. There is one major hypermarket (Le Clerc in paseo Delete) and several smaller food outlets including Eroski, Mercadona, Más and two Lidle stores, For best value and freshest local produce, try the central covered market. English is widely understood
Parking for visitors to the tourist office is a short walk from (free - open) surface car park at entry to town near Hotel Mercedes, or underground (guarded, cooler but paid - c. 1€ per hour) in Calle Valera - Exit Mariblanca cobbled street to right under arch, and turn left after Hotel Principe de Paz (opposite palace).
Parking in Aranjuez town centre streets is difficult and needs a paid ticket during business hours - but only if the spaces are marked with a blue line.
Within Aranjuez, there are many sculptures and architectural gems - because the town was created by royalty and only royal servants were permitted, the vernacular buildings tend to be of one design in the tightly packed centre, interspersed with noble palaces and grand military installations along the boulevards. Worth visiting are the newly restored railway station and Carlos III theatre, the Queen's stable, now adapted as the municipal cultural centre, the central Abastos market and (ruined) Carlos municipal (plague) hospital. Saturdays there is a substantial open air market for food and clothing in Calle Valeras, which faces the Royal Palace.
The actual Mutiny of Aranjuez|Motin de Aranjuez] was in March, 1808 because Godoy was believed to have colluded with Napoleon to invade Spain on the pretext of attacking Portugal. Subsequently the French forced both the Spanish King Carlos IV and his son to abdicate in favour of Napoleon's brother, Joseph, (José I). The Spanish, aided by British forces under Wellington ejected José and reinstalled the king's son as Ferdinand VII, the last regular royal occupant at Aranjuez who ruled until his death in 1833.
IMPORTANT: Be sure always to tell someone (such as your hotel receptionist or host) what you are planning, and throughout the summer use Factor 50 sun block on exposed flesh, and be sure to take (even on short outings)
There are two casinos -
As well as golf and canoeing mentioned, most common sports facilities are available at low cost municipal installations, and there are various adventure activities such as outdoor airsoft or paint-ball on the so-called "Hamburger hill" adventure park (south of Aranjuez) and parapente or paragliding on La Montaña (behind schools on Avenida de la Paz de Hiroshima).
Aranjuez is the wedding capital of Spain - maybe because you are royalty for the day! There are several shops selling or hiring wedding dresses, formal wear etc. and several specialist event organizers, including:
Any of the several professional photographic shops in the town can suggest some great/elegant/natural backgrounds for those 'forever fotos'
Buy a home!
Yes! Really it is possible - the building bubble burst, and this town is bursting with four-bedroom houses - detached, terraced or semi-detached chalets and apartments from 1 - 3 bedrooms, all soundly built to EC standards but which became toxic assets, now to be sold by Spain's bad-bank - Sociedad de Gestión de Activos Procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria (or 'Sareb').
Although good concrete frame construction buildings, the finish is often poor, so the original asking price (c. 400,000) is usually about half the current list price, but what the market will currently bear is half that - In 2012 a chalet was offered at 167,000€, and similar homes can be rented for about 500€ because private owners are getting desperate. Aranjuez is pleasant, safe and child-friendly sort of place in which to live. The weather is sub-tropical (rarely freezes, can be 40ºC in high summer). Magical Madrid, Spain's capital city, is 1-hour commuting distance, and the monthly train ticket is around 90 Euros.
The strawberries of Aranjuez are famous throughout Spain. There are some excellent restaurants serving local speciality foods, notably small artichokes which can be eaten whole and asparagus, which may be mature, white and thick (blanco or young thin green brotes / trigots.
In the noble tradition, seafood and shellfish are available all year round and
In winter, a rich stew dish, known as Cocido completo is common. The liquid is served as a soup and the strained vegetables and meat (pork sausage, pigs ear) is served as the main course.
A daily Menú is provided at most bars and restaurants at around 10 - 20 euros weekdays and slightly more at weekends, but you may have to ask for it - since La Carta is more expensive. The menu is generally very good value for money, and includes a drink (table wine or soft refresco) and either coffee or desert (rarely both).
Bars in Aranjuez generally offer a wide selection of internationally known refreshments in generous measure and at prices below the European average price.
In Aranjuez - with alcohol - it is common to be offered a free bar snack or tapas - typically a saucer of olives, a small slice of tortilla or croquettes - sometimes shellfish (Mariscos) -the selection is usually displayed in a glass cabinet on the bar and chosen by the waiter unless you indicate a preference.
Madrid is a Vinos de Madrid| denominated wine production area and some establishments offer local red and white table wines. High quality red wines are generally from Rioja or Ribera Duero region, and white from either Reuda or Rias Baxas - all of those regions are in northern Spain.
The main supplier is Mahou of Madrid (part of the national Mahou San Miguel group). They provide a wide range of larger type beer, often served in a deep-frozen glass (copa) or half-litre Jarra. Other national and imported beers and ales tend to be more expensive, but price varies according to the locale.
As well as bottled sherry Jerez many bars in Aranjuez have a barrel or tap (similar to, and alongside the regular beer-tap) - look out for these!
Most bars have a very wide and international selection of distilled drinks, and the waiters (camereros) enjoy producing fancy cocktails and amusing tapas.
Water from the tap (grifo is widely drunk in Spain, particularly by children, and is generally available on request - usually chilled or with ice. Ask for Agua and mineral water is usually served - with ice and lemon. The usual range of American and European sweet drinks (Coca-cola, Fanta etc) are served with lots of ice, and so are usually reasonably priced (often slightly cheaper than in Madrid capital, and much cheaper than in tourist areas).
Aranjuez caters for almost every type of visitor and most budgets from backpacker to buisness traveller:
special needs, school parties, sports & educational vacations
Aranjues Municipal Tourist Information Office have very pleasant staff who speak English, and, as well as orientation, guide books and events calenders, will also help visitors to the office by telephoning - especially to smaller local establishments whose staff may have difficulty speaking English
The office is alongside the huge Mariblanca sandy square, in Casa de las Infantas to the left of San Antonio church. and open daily, all year round from about 10 am Telephone Spain (+34) 918 910 427 Fax.: (+34) 918 914 197 Email: [email protected]