The squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!

So I am back in my beloved Spain and one of my favorite spots in all the country, province and autonomous region combine. This royal princely Aranjuez, and we like it here.

So many nice places to see in addition to the top Palace here (see previous posts) I like to come back to something more urban and walkable with beautiful sights all around you. We love to walk especially once in the city anywhere, and the squares are the main attraction really. So , therefore, I will tell you a bit more on my favorites squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!

The Plaza de San Antonio, also known as the Plaza of the Mariblanca, is located in  Aranjuez, in the community of Madrid. It is also known as  Mariblanca due to the sculptural ensemble known as the source of the Mariblanca (whose real name is Venus) that decorates the north end of the square. In the square you can see the sites of the Casa de los Caballeros y Oficios ( House of Knights and Crafts), the Church of San Antonio, the Casa de Infantes (house of Infantes in line for the throne), and the garden of Isabel II. Towards 1752, the square had another source called the Fuente del Rey (fountain of the king), with an image of the King Fernando VI looking at the bridge, but in 1760 King Carlos III, ordered it removed, and two years later was placed the current fountain of Venus.

A bit of history and construction I like

The Plaza San Antonio square was designed in the year 1750, during the reign of king Fernando VI , to serve as a connection between the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and the urban fabric that had been formed south of it. This nexus function is especially visible in the arcaded gallery on the western side, being the closest to the palatial enclosure. It is a half-point arch, supported on rectangular pillars carved in stone of Colmenar, which unifies and gives continuity to the facades of the Casa de los Caballeros y Oficios, two buildings emerged in different times. The one started in 1584, although its construction lasted until the 17C. The second was conceived in 1613 but was not completed until century and a half later, between 1762 and 1770.

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On the southern side the flank is presided by the Church of San Antonio, whose baroque silhouette defines and gives personality to the whole. Conceived as the vanishing point of the square, it replaced the oratory that  king Felipe V had founded as reinforcement of the Chapel of the Royal Palace, too small to fully address the religious needs of the court. It was done in the year 1752. The result is a circular plant structure, which is covered by a spherical vault, topped with a large cylindrical lantern. The main facade is protected by a portico of five semicircular arches and Tuscan pilasters, which gives rise, on the upper part, to a terrace, which is closed by means of a stone balustrade and a triangular pediment, at the coronation of the central arch. All this generates a gimmicky set of curves and counter curves, very scenographic, with which the temple puts the counterpoint to the rectilinear distribution of the other architectural elements of the square. During the reign of Carlos III , the Church was enlarged with a rectangular nave, while the closing of the southern face of the square was undertaken, with the construction of two new arcades on both sides of its façade. This work was carried out in 1767.

On the eastern side of the square is porticoes only in its first stretch, in its contact with the Casa de Infantes, whereas, in the second, it opens to the garden of Isabel II. The Casa de Infantes was done in 1772, for lodging of the infants Gabriel and Antonio, sons of king Carlos III, and of their respective families; It is perfectly integrated in the square, thanks to the aforementioned gallery of arcs, which follows the same bill as the one located on the western flank.

The northern side faces the square lacks arcades, which facilitates a direct connection to the Parterre garden, located next to the west façade of the Royal Palace. The feeling of contact between the two areas is reinforced with the location in this part of the fountain of Venus, whose monumental base constitutes a worthy counterpoint to the Church of San Antonio. This fountain was made in 1762 .

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At first, the fountain was known as the Fuente del Rey or  King’s fountain, by the statue of Fernando VI that it had installed on its upper part. With the change of the sculptural auction, it received the official denomination of Fuente de Venus, although everyone began to call it the Mariblanca, due to the color of the figure of the goddess (white). For this reason, the Plaza de San Antonio is also called the Mariblanca.

Plaza de Mariblanca known as well as Plaza de Sant Antonio (see above). The beautiful statue is the image of a Venus sculpted in white stone by the artist of the time Juan Reina, and because of the very similar thing that turned out to be with the statue of the fountain of Puerta del Sol in Madrid, was given the same name as this , since then one of the greatest symbols of this city that has seen it grow from its beginnings until today. The Fuente de  Venus. In 1830 the fountain was ornamented by a ensemble formed by lizards, snails, cupids riding on newts and three Lions, two of them with a ball between their claws and a third holding a castle.

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The goddess Venus , one of the twelve Olympic divinities. According to Greek mythology, it was born by joining the Sea with the foam formed by the sperm of Uranus (the sky) after Saturn cut his testicles. It’s usually depicted in a shell. Usually Venus has been associated with beauty, love and especially with sexual attraction. Her loves with Mars and Adonis highlight the attraction for physical beauty. The evolution of its cult presents many aspects, the Venus Génitrix flattering of the marriage, the Venus Pandemic which veiled by the prostitution, the Venus Pelagia protective of the sailors… In Sparta, she was venerated as a warrior goddess and in the primitive Rome she was represented the spring, guarding and protecting the fields and gardens, which reaffirms her as a perfect guardian of our orchards.

Some webpages to help you enjoy your visit here are

Official city of Aranjuez on its heritage and history

Tourist office of Aranjuez on the Plaza San Antonio aka Mariblanca

Tourist office of Aranjuez on things to see around the Plaza

Moving along on these wonderful squares of Aranjuez we come to the Plaza de Parejas Reales. The main characteristic of the Plaza de Parejas de Aranjuez is its enormous dimension and its semi-open form.  Its name is due to the game of couples that took place in this square and was a kind of dance on horseback in which forty-eight knights were divided into four rows headed by one of the sons of the king and parading disciplined they crossed and  re-crossed in a a kind of dance, tournament and military parade. This square is perpendicular to the Royal Palace flanked by the Casa de los Fogones (house of the kitchens) that closes on one side and limits it on the other the Casa de Caballeros y Oficios (House of Knights and Trades). It belongs to the area of warehouses and dependencies close to the Royal Palace. Its special location, near the Royal Palace and where their facades facing the Plaza de Parejas and Plaza de San Antonio stand above the rest.

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The Plaza de Toros was inaugurated in 1797 by king Carlos IV and his wife Luisa of Parma. It is an open space for the practice of bullfighting, as well as place of musical events. It currently has a capacity of 9500 persons. It is celebrated on the 30th of May of each year an important bullfighting celebration, being the festivity of San Fernando and the Toros Goyesca.

In 1851 and 1881, improvement works were carried out. It was designed in smaller proportions, similar to the old bullring near the Puerta de Alcalá. The period of splendor of the square was from the 18C and, above all, at the beginning of the 19C due to the bullfighting hobby of King Fernando VII.

The halls of the Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino) guard a large number of garments, utensils and billboards of important bullfighting masters. Together with the Maestranza in Sevilla and the Plaza de Ronda is one of the few bullrings of the 18C that still stand and use for bullfighting. The museum is open on  Sundays and Mondays at 11h30. and 13h, after prior reservation in the tourist office.

Some webpages to help you come to the Plaza de Toros as the Plaza de Parejas Reales is just next to the Royal Palace , are

Official Plaza de Toros of Aranjuez

Tourist office of Aranjuez on the Plaza de Toros

City of Aranjuez on the Plaza de Toros

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The Prince’s garden built by the Prince of Asturias , the future Carlos IV . It houses a myriad of gardens at the entrance, like the Spanish Garden, the Plaza de Pamplona, garden pavilions, Rollercoaster, spectacular Chinese gardens, Hermit Island, etc.

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For the benefit of those in public transports, the best way to reach here is from Madrid Puerta del Sol you can take Cercanias train C3 o C3A to Aranjuez train station, there walk about 15 minutes to the squares above. Of course, I always come here by car and get off street parking for free.

City of Aranjuez on the very nice train station

There you go another nice walkable city full of wonderful monuments and good inexpensive foods than Madrid city lol! I have done other posts on the city monuments that you can search in my blog. For now enjoy Aranjuez and its squares! The Plazas!

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

 

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4 Comments to “The squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!”

  1. Gorgeous garden!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I visited this delightful place when I stayed nearby in Chinchón. Thanks for the memory nudge.

    Liked by 1 person

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