This garden was initially of Islamic inspiration but clearly influenced by the Flemish and Italian Renaissance style and taste. Its design and construction develop three clearly defined scopes: one, related to the layout and design of the garden itself; second, relating to the gardening design, in which the most famous gardeners of the time participated; and third, the artistic scope, represented in the sculptural compositions of its fountains.
This garden was used for the exclusive enjoyment of the King and the court and is a clear reflection of the power, dominion and control that the King had over his empire, an empire where “the sun never set”. Even though this garden has lightly changed over time, the main structure and design was thought and carried out by Juan Bautista de Toledo in 1561.
Vegetal species coming from France, Flanders, Andalucía and Valencia in Spain were planted in different rectangles of land divided into squares that Juan Bautista de Toledo organized around a central axe. In the crossings there are smaller courts with marble fountains devoted to mythological characters. The whole structure was delimited by a low dam around Tagus river to prevent floods. There is an auxiliary construction also built at the same time, to make it possible to have water in the fountains of this garden: this was the Mar de Ontígola, a pond built in higher altitudes (five kilometers away from the Garden), that provided water to the garden fountains by means of gravity and height pressure. All the original sculptures in the fountains were carved in Italian marble.
There were also botanic constructions in this garden made by the most famous French and Flemish gardeners of the time. They created green tunnels and galleries playing with the contrasts of shade and sun light where the Myths sculptures dwelt. This garden gathered both the intimacy and water play of a Muslim Garden and the Italian style of mythological reference fountains, geometrically organized paths and parterre gardens. Later in the XVIII th Century, during the Reign of Charles III, this garden was transformed into French gardening Style by including boje plantations resembling embroideries and installing new white stone benches in the squares.
Most relevant fountains in this garden are Hercules and Hydra Fountain, placed where there used to be a fountain devoted to Diana Goddess; Apollo Fountain, probably carved in the early XVII th century; The Hours Fountain, also called the Ring Fountain, which is supposed to be the oldest one due to its Arabic influence design; The Child of the Thorn Fountain, from mid XVII th century; Venus Fountain, one of the oldest ones, coming from Florence in 1571; and Baccus Fountain, an early 16th century composition that changed over time, and finally the Boticaria Fountain, that welcomes the visitor when stepping into the Island Garden after crossing the garden’s bridge.
This garden was thought and developed in 1772 during the Reign of Charles III due to the initiative of his son, later King Charles IV. It has 145 Ha and is well known to be the biggest fenced garden in Europe holding more than 190 tree species. In fact, this garden is considered to be a Botanic Garden.
Its English design integrated preexisting elements set irregularly in contrast with the French style of Parterre and Island Gardens, more organized and systematic. Juan de Villanueva was the architect in charge and Pablo Boutelou was the chief gardener. They were responsible of creating an intervention in nature with a result of spontaneous and disordered beauty, another example of how Aranjuez was conceived as a place for leisure and pleasure for the senses.
Both planned this singular garden, quite influenced by the microclimate of Aranjuez, the morphology of this land and the confluence of two rivers in this territory, Tagus and Jarama rivers. This last condition enabled a peculiar way of watering this garden consisting in flooding the meadows by a well-integrated- in the landscape channel system.
Through the main entrance, designed by Architect Juan de Villanueva, we get to the Spring orchard on one side and Tagus river on the other side. Following the main street, we can also visit the Spanish Gardens and the Second Garden, where famous Arbor painted by Catalan Painter Santiago Rusiñol, (who found in these Gardens and great source of inspiration), is. The Garden of the Pavilions is a recreation area built for Charles III´s children that we can find next to Falúas Museum and Santiago Rusiñol Arbor, as well.
It is very relevant to mention the Sculptural sets represented in the fountains of Prince`s Garden. In gardens number three and four, we can find the magnificent sculptural composition of Narciso’s Fountain, built in times of Charles IV and surrounded by irregular gardening designs according to the English gardening style. In garden number five, it is worth mentioning the fountain of Apollo, a sculptural and architectonical set conceived as the scenario of a long street with an outstanding vegetal perspective.
Garden number six is well known as the English – Chinese garden where the Chinescos Pond is located; there are two pavilions, the Classical Template built by Juan de Villanueva in times of Charles IV, formed by ten green Italian marble columns and the Chinese pavilion, that originally disappeared during the Napoleonic invasion and was later reconstructed by Isidro Gonzalez during the Reign of Ferdinand VII. Following the fashion of that time, and evoking Egypt Idols, the composition also includes an Obelisk coming from the personal collection of King Phillip V.
American and Asiatic Islands areas, planned by the end of 18th century, are named that way due to the fact that most of their plants come from those Continents. They are formed by very sinuous paths surrounded by small watering channels and exotic vegetation, adding an exceptional value to the garden as a Botanic Garden, as mentioned before.
In the eighth garden we can find La Casa del Labrador Palace. It was built during the reign of Charles IV and finished in the very beginning of 19th Century. It was originally built as a Country House and later turned into a small Palace used in Spring time by the King for his leisure and fun after hunting in the lands surrounding the place. It was initially isolated from the rest of the garden by a stretch of Tagus river and there were several bridges to get there. In Ferdinand VII’s times, Isidro Gonzalez planned a small garden around the Palace and the stretch was dried and bridges finally disappeared.
This small Palace was decorated by the most important artists of the time, such as painter Mariano Salvador Maella. Its rooms were covered with the finest clothes and carpets from the Royal Factory and the best handcrafts men of the time completed the wooden and marble, ornaments in ceilings, walls and furniture. Afterwards, during the Reing of Alfonso XII and even later in mid 20th century, the Palace had to be reformed due to some structural flaws of the building.
Miraflores Garden, the Ninth garden, was used for Queen Isabella II ‘s stud in late XIX century, and currently is a private part of the garden and cannot be visited.