A Palace in the forests of Castilla!

Since my youth ,I have been coming to this area of Spain first with my mother, than friends, then girlfriend, and my dear late wife Martine, and last with the boys. A lifetime of memories all floating now in the forest of Castilla. This is the fairy tail dream of a man native of Versailles, France.

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso is an 18C palace, summer residence of the kings of Spain since Felipe V of Spain. It is located in the village of San Ildefonso, in the province of Segovia, 80 km from Madrid. In Baroque style, it is surrounded by French gardens and 26 sculptured fountains. It is now open to the public as a museum.

I have written a blog entry on it a while back ,here it is for reference: Palace of San Ildefonso

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, located in the Sierra du Guadarrama, is an example of European palatial architecture, dream over by Felipe grandson of king Louis XIV of France born at Versailles, baptised at Notre Dame Church of Versailles and move over as bourbon king of Spain under Felipe V. Current king of Spain Felipe VI is a descendant.

Of course, been born at the Palace of Versailles and coming over, the need to try to recreate the splendor of the old place was imminent. So he decided to ordered built the palace in the forest around the village of San Ildenfonso. This he succeeded in a smaller scale but just as beautiful.

The story goes that in 1450, king Henry IV built a hunting lodge at the site of the present palace. Later, the Catholic monarchs gave the property to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome of Parral. In 1720, Felipe V, the first Spanish king of the Bourbon dynasty, bought the land and ordered built the royal Palace of San Ildefonso. In 1724, the wings were added to house the courtyard.  A new facade on the garden ends the building in 1735. We owe king Carlos III the beautiful portal that marks the main access of the ensemble. The palace has 40 rooms with Flemish paintings from the 17C and a collection of tapestries. In the Royal Chapel, a tomb contains the bodies of Felipe V and Isabel de Farnesio. The French gardens are inspired by Marly’s and the 26 monumental fountains are part of splendid water games. A real Versailles lost in the forest

It is a splendid example of the European palatial architecture and has gardens and fountains inspired by Versailles, with constant references to legends and mythology. The palace’s rooms are adorned with Carrara marble, Japanese lacquers and crystal lamps. Its name is due to an old farm of the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome of Parral. Felipe V  is buried here.

San Ildefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso

king Felipe V wanted a garden that reminds him of  his childhood in Versailles. To develop these 145 ha, the landscapers of the Grama and the gardeners were inspired by Versailles and gave a unique identity to their realization. Forest perspectives and French country aisles connect well-independent garden parts in the Arabic style. The water games of the Neptune Basin, the new waterfall and the Fountain of water jet and the chestnut trees imported directly from France are superb.

A wonderful side trip from Segovia or even Madrid. Easy to get to the shortest cheapest way is by the Puerta de Moncloa under the Tunnel from Madrid and continues on the A-6 highway passing the town of Las Rosas (famous for the outlet mall) get on the road M601 exit/salida 39 direction Puerto de Navacerrada and continue on this direction and road passing the town of Navacerrada, Cercedilla, with hilly roads until you reach the town of San Idefonso.The palace will be on your right hand side. There is train and bus  « La Sepulvedana »  but only took the bus as a boy with my mother afterward all has been by car.

Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip here are

National Heritage Royal sites of Spain on the Palace

Tourist office of Madrid on the Palace of San Ildefonso

Tourist office of Castilla y Léon on the palace

Tourist office of San Ildefonso

A really nice place to visit and one I would have no problems in a repeat. Hope it helps

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “A Palace in the forests of Castilla!”

  1. I came across this place in March 2009, thanks for the memory nudge. Today I wake up in Rojales near Alicante.


  2. Little Versailles in Spain: I like that idea! When I hear the word Idelfonso, I can’t help thinking of the orphan children who sang the lottery numbers on 22nd December, especially El Gordo: 200 millones de pesetas!


    Liked by 1 person

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