After Toledo we wanted to visit Madrid and had decided to stay outside the city and travel in by train. There is a campsite at Aranjuez, which is 40 km from Madrid, and there is a handy train station in the town. We were totally unprepared for the unexpected charm of Aranjuez itself. The campsite backs onto the river Tajo and it is a 10 minute walk from the site, over the river and into the Jardin de Principe to the town. There are also some very impressive public squares that seem so out of place in what is really quite a modest town.
Aranjuez was built to serve the Palace which was mostly developed by Queen Isabel II. The palace dates from the 18th century and is not of any particular architectural importance. However, there are numerous rooms of great opulence that are open to the public for a fee. You are not allowed to take photos so I can’t include any pictures. We were knocked sideways by the awful porcelain room. It is completely covered in decorative ware from the factory that used to stand in Madrid’s Retiro Park.
The walk to the town from the campsite takes you through the Jardin del Principe, which is very attractive, even in Winter. It also contains the museum which houses a selection of Royal barges from the past. Entry was included in the Palace ticket and we were pleased we had gone in as they were truly splendid. The Palace overlooks the Jardin de Isla, with its fountains, statues and peacocks. Both gardens are open to the public for free. The fountains were turned off when we were there as it was still winter, but the statuary is still impressive.
Aranjuez is mostly used as a stopping point en route to other places but it is a worthy destination in its own right.