Tehuacán

Tehuacán

Friday, September 26, 2014

Aranjuez

Today I took an excursion outside of Madrid to the town of Aranjuez.  Aranjuez is located about 26 miles to the south of Madrid on the banks of the Tagus River (Río Tajo).  It is famous as the location of one of Spain's royal palaces.  It was very easy to get there.  Just a 10 minute walk from Werner's flat is the Puerta del Sol.  Underneath that plaza is a station for the "cercanías" (local trains), and from there I caught a train that went directly to Aranjuez.

The Palace of Aranjuez was begun in the 1500s by King Felipe II, but it was not completed until the 1700s by the Bourbon King Carlos III.  In the 1800s it was the favorite spring residence of the Spanish monarchs.




In the 19th century, Queen Isabel II had the interior of the palace redecorated, so it is mainly her choices in furniture and decoration that visitors see today.  The most impressive rooms are the Arabian Room which imitates the lavish designs of the Alhambra Palace, and the Porcelain Study, in which the walls and ceiling are entirely covered with ornate pieces of porcelain.  (Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside.)

Along the banks of the Tagus River is a large area of parkland known as the Prince's Park.




The so-called "Chinese Garden" in the park

 In the middle of the park is a small pleasure palace that was built for King Carlos IV and his wife María Luisa.  (The inept king and his shrewish queen were immortalized in Goya's painting "The Family of Charles IV".)  The royal couple took an active role in the design and decoration of this intimate place that was to be their retreat from the pressures of the royal court.  It was completed in 1803.  Just five years later, Napoleon invaded Spain, and Carlos was forced to abdicate.  


 

The little palace is called "La Casa del Labrador" (The Farmer's House).  But of course! Doesn't every farmer have a house adorned with Roman statuary?!


 And doesn't every farmer have a house whose rooms have marble floors and wall coverings of embroidered silk?!  "La Casa del Labrador" may be smaller than the main palace, but the decor is even more over-the-top.

One last view of the Palace of Aranjuez before heading back to the train station...

 

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