ARANJUEZ (perhaps the ancient Ara Jovis), a town of central Spain, in the province of Madrid, 30 m. S. of Madrid, on the left bank of the river Tagus, at the junction of the main southern railways to Madrid, and at the western terminus of the Aranjuez-Cuenca railway. Pop. (1900) 12,670. Aranjuez occupies part of a wide valley, about 1500 ft. above the sea. Its formal, straight streets, crossing one another regularly at right angles, and its uniform, two-storeyed houses were built in imitation of the Dutch style, under the direction of Jerónimo, marquis de Grimaldi (1716-1788), ambassador of Charles III. at the Hague. A rapid in the Tagus, artificially converted into a weir, renders irrigation easy, and has thus created an oasis in the midst of the barren plateau of New Castile. On every side the town is surrounded by royal parks and woods of sycamores, plane-trees and elms, often of extraordinary size. The prevalence of the dark English elms, first introduced into the country and planted here by order of Philip II. (1527-1598), gives to the Aranjuez district a character wholly distinct from that of other Spanish landscapes; and at an early period, despite the unhealthy climate, and especially the oppressive summer heat, which often approaches 100° F., Aranjuez became a favourite residence of the Spanish court. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the master of the Order of Santiago had a country seat here, which passed, along with the mastership, into the possession of the crown of Spain in 1522. Its successive occupants, from the emperor Charles V. (1500-1558) down to Ferdinand VII. (1784-1833), modified it according to their respective tastes. The larger palace was built by Pedro Caro for Philip V. (1683-1746), in the French style of the period. It overlooks the Jardin de la Isla, a beautiful garden laid out for Philip II. on an island in the Tagus, which forms the scene of Schiller's famous drama Don Carlos. The Casa del Labrador, or Labourer's Cottage, as it is called, is a smaller palace built by Charles IV. in 1803, and full of elaborate ornamentation. The chief local industry is farming, and an annual fair is held in September for the sale of live stock. Great attention is given to the rearing of horses and mules, and the royal stud used to be remarkable for the beauty of its cream-coloured breed. The treaty of 1772 between France and Spain was concluded at Aranjuez, which afterwards suffered severely from the French during the Peninsular War. Here, also, in 1808, the insurrection broke out which ended in the abdication of Charles IV.
For a fuller description of Aranjuez see D.S. Viñas y Rey, Aranjuez (Madrid, 1890); F. Nard, Guia de Aranjuez, su historia y descripcion (Madrid, 1851), (illustrated); Alvarez de Quindos, Descripcion historica del real basque y casa de Aranjuez (Madrid, 1804).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)