A former royal residence and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Palacio Real de Aranjuez) is one of the grandest palaces in the Madrid region. With origins dating to the 16th century, the palace housed generations of the Spanish monarchy. Today, its opulent looks and grounds make it a popular tourist destination.
Envisioned as an Italian-style villa, the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, notable for its red-and-white facade, was commissioned by Philip II of Spain and completed centuries later by Charles III. Over the generations, it expanded into a colossus—home to hundreds of lavishly decorated rooms and a sweep of gardens, the landmark nearly rivals Versailles in both scale and pomp.
Full-day tours from Madrid are a convenient way to explore the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Some itineraries pair a trip to the palace with stops at other nearby highlights, such as the city of Toledo and El Escorial Monastery. Hot-air balloon excursions offer an impressive perspective on the landmark.
Things to Know Before You Go
- With its baroque beauty and centuries of heritage, the Royal Palace of Aranjuez is particularly appealing to architecture enthusiasts and history buffs.
- Students, the elderly, and children get a discount on admission; those under age 5 enter for free.
- Download the palace’s companion smartphone app and make use of its guides, which are available in more than a dozen languages.
- The palace is accessible to wheelchairs (available to rent) and strollers.
How to Get There
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is located about 27 miles (44 kilometers) south of Madrid in the town of Aranjuez, along the banks of the Tagus River. Several train lines run between Madrid and Aranjuez—the average journey time is under an hour.
When to Get There
The palace’s open days and hours vary depending on the season. Check online for details.
The Palace Gardens
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez may be a spectacle on its own, but the site’s vast gardens are just as impressive. Don’t miss the Prince’s Garden (Jardín del Principe), which houses sights like the 18th-century Casa del Labrador, a royal hunting lodge. The Island Garden (Jardín de la Isla) is another must-see.