Aranjuez Cultural Landscape - World Heritage
Cultural Landscapes have been defined by the World Heritage Committee as distinct geographical areas or properties uniquely "representing the combined work of nature and of man". The complex cultural landscape of Aranjuez marks a seminal stage in the development of landscape design. The cultural landscape of Aranjuez is made up of watercourses, geometric landscape design, forest landscape and palatial buildings. UNESCO listed the Aranjuez Cultural Lanscape as a World Heritage Site in 2001.
Aranjuez represents a model for a given culture's use of its territory. The Royal Court extended a great influence on the development of its landscape. The city's architectural splendour arguably began in the 16th century, when king Philip II built a new palace (The Royal Palace of Aranjuez), complete with large ornamental and vegetable gardens laid out according to geometric principles. The Royal Palace of Aranjuez, located on the banks of the Tajo River, was built as a royal summer residence. The continuing splendour of the 18th century culminated in the building of a new town close to the palace which is also home to several historical monuments.
The entire area is a green oasis in an otherwise mountainous landscape that is fairly barren of vegetation as a result of climate, geomorphology and over-exploitive use of the land. The Aranjuez Cultural Landscape comprises a planned town, ornamental gardens, vegetable gardens, rivers, lagoons, orchards, waterworks, woods and moors. The main elements are The Royal Palace of Aranjuez and its Island Garden, King's Garden, Prince's Garden, Garden of the Statues, the Great Historic Garden and the 18th century town that is now the historic core of modern Aranjuez.