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Aranjuez (Municipality, Community of Madrid, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-07-01 by ivan sache
Keywords: aranjuez | el real cortijo de san isidro |
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Flag of Aranjuez - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 June 2015

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Presentation of Aranjuez

The municipality of Aranjuez (57,792 inhabitants in 2014; 20,111 ha, therefore the second most biggest municipality in the Community by its area; municipal website) is the southernmost municipality in the Community of Madrid, located half distance (45 km) of Madrid and Toledo. The municipal territory forms a thin stripe entering southwards Castilla-La Mancha (Province of Toledo). which totally surrounds Aranjuez except in the north.

Aranjuez was first documented on a privilege granted in 1108 by King Alfonso VII, as Arauz / Aranz. The etymology of the place name is disputed. Nebrija refers to the Arab toponym Ibn Arankej, "a place planted with nut trees". Father Sarmiento claims that the Romans built there an altar dedicated to Jupiter, in Latin, ara jovia. Other authors mention the Basque word aranza, "a black thorn". The hamlet of Almunzundica, mentioned in documents from the 11th century, was probably located in the neighbourhood.
Aranjuez, then located on the border with the Moorish states, formed by river Tagus, was transferred in 1171 by King Alfonso VIII to the Order of St. James, newly founded by Rodrigo Fernández de Fuente Encalada. The Mesa Maestral de Santiago, established in 1272, incorporated the territory of Aranjuez as a place of leisure for the Grand Masters. Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa ordered at the end of the 15th century the building of a palace, which would be suppressed in 1727.

Aranjuez was transformed into a Royal site by the Catholic Monarchs. The old palace was revamped, while the Island's Garden was transformed into the Queen's Garden. Gonzalo Chacón, appointed in 1520 Mayor of the Palace, significantly embellished the site. Aranjuez was converted into a Royal property in 1523, when King Charles I was made Master of the Order of St. James and administrator-in-life of the Mesa Maestral by Pope Adrian VI. Fond of hunting, the king established the Royal Forest and House of Aranjuez.
King Philip II awarded the title of Royal Site to Aranjuez in 1560 and reorganized the gardens in 1564. Irrigation was improved, while rows of poplars, elms, orange trees, jasmine and grapevine were planted. The palace was rebuilt in 1561 by the architects Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera. No populational increase was allowed, the Royal Site being considered as a monumental estate strictly reserved to the king.
Philip V of Bourbon modelled Aranjuez in the French style. The Royal palace was increased, while 700 families, managed by an Alcalde Mayor, were hired to the service of the king.
Ferdinand VI lift the ban on the population of Aranjuez. Santiago Bonavía, assisted by Alejandro González Velázquez, started in 1740 the planning of the new town, subsequently achieved by Sabatini and Juan de Villanueva. Monumental buildings, squares and streets were designed according to a rectilinear pattern. Strict architectural norms on the height of the houses, the width of the streets and the design of the facades preserved the harmony and homogeneity of the town. Palaces were set up for the court, as well as houses for traders and craftsmen, and a sewerage system. Aranjuez soon became an active industrial and commercial center. The historical downtown, mostly preserved until now, was registered in 1984 as an Historic and Artistic Monument.
Charles III achieved the colonization of Aranjuez. Houses, hospitals, chapels, convents and barracks were established in the town, while El Real Cortijo de San Isidro was created in the outskirts. The Gilded Age of Aranjuez ended under the reign of Charles IV, because of the careless administration and null profitability of the Royal domains. An unpopular reform, however, permitted to increase the funds allocated to the Royal site.

Charles IV signed in 1801 the Treaty of Aranjuez with Emperor Napoléon. The expected naval alliance against England provided a convenient excuse for the French invasion of Spain, three years later, starting the War of Independence.
The Aranjuez Uprising (Motín de Aranjuez; 17-19 March 1808) was the result of the plot of Infante Ferdinand against Manuel Godoy, Charles IV's favourite. Godoy attempted to convince Charles IV to flee from Seville to the Americas, to escape the French invasion and national unrest. Opposed to this solution, Ferdinand and his partisans assaulted Godoy's house and eventually captured him two days later; Ferdinand obtained the abdication of his father and was crowned as Ferdinand VII. Two months later, he was overthrown by Joseph Bonaparte and would be jailed in France until 1814. The General Junta, loyal to Ferdinand VII, gathered in September 1808 in Aranjuez to co-ordinate the resistance to the French invasion.

The office of Governor of the Royal Site of Aranjuez was suppressed on 2 January 1835, replaced on 9 September 1836 by the Municipality of Aranjuez. The first railway line in Spain was expected to connect Madrid and Aranjuez; in spite of the effort of the Marquis of Salamanca, the "Strawberry Train" could be inaugurated by Queen Isabel II only on 8 February 1851, after the Barcelona-Mataró line. Aranjuez was awarded the title of villa in 1899, therefore its honorific title of "Real Sitio y Villa de Aranjuez". The Aranjuez Cultural Landscape was registered on 14 December 2001 on the UNESCO World Heritage List (notice), as follows:

The Aranjuez cultural landscape is an entity of complex relationships: between nature and human activity, between sinuous watercourses and geometric landscape design, between the rural and the urban, between forest landscape and the delicately modulated architecture of its palatial buildings. Three hundred years of royal attention to the development and care of this landscape have seen it express an evolution of concepts from humanism and political centralization, to characteristics such as those found in its 18th century French-style Baroque garden, to the urban lifestyle which developed alongside the sciences of plant acclimatization and stock- breeding during the Age of Enlightenment.

The Aranjuez Concerto is the first and most famous of the five concertos for guitar and orchestra composed by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999; official website). Composed in 1939 in Paris for the Marquis of Botarque, the concerto was first played on 9 November 1940 in Barcelona and has been played since then by the most famous soloists (Narciso Yepes, Pepe Romero, John Williams, Paco de Lucia). The 2nd movement of the concerto (adagio) has been submitted to several musical and vocal adaptations, for instance by Miles Davis and Gil Evans (Sketches of Spain, 1960) and Tara Fitzgerald (indeed, Paul Hughes, Grimethorpe Colliery Band) in the movie Brassed Off (1996).
Joaquín Rodrigo was made Marquis de los Jardines de Aranjuez by Royal Decree No. 1859, signed on 30 December 1991 by King John Charles and published on 31 December 1991 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 313, p. 42,047 (text).

Ivan Sache, 29 June 2015

Symbols of Aranjuez

The flag of Aranjuez is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 20 May 1999 by the Government of the Community of Madrid and published on 21 June 1999 in the official gazette of the Community of Madrid, No. 145, p. 5 (text) and on 14 August 1999 in the official Spanish gazette, No. 194, p. 30,320 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: In proportions 2:3. Blue panel, charged in the center with the officially approved coat of arms of the town, crowned.

The Municipal Council approved on 4 November 1998 the Rules of Protocol and Ceremonial and of Honours and Distinctions, which prescribe the possible adoption of a municipal flag. During the same session, the Municipal Council approved the flag proposal and the supporting memoir presented by the Head of Protocol of the municipality.
The blue field is a tribute to the Bourbon dynasty, whose coat of arms, "Azure three fleurs-de-lis or", is placed as an escutcheon on the arms of Spain. The vertical size of the coat of arms shall be 2/5 of the flag's hoist.
[Municipal website]

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed flag "without objection".
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 2000, 197: 2, 346]

On the flags in actual use (photos, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo), the coat of arms is much bigger than prescribed, probably for the sake of visibility.

The coat of arms of Aranjuez is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 17 February 1956 by the Spanish Government and published on 29 February 1956 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 60, p. 1,368 (text).
The coat of arms is not described in the Decree.

The coat of arms is described elsewhere as follows:

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Azure a Cross of St. James gules, 2. Gules a river argent and azure ensigned with a palace or. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed [detailed description skipped]. Beneath the shield a scroll or charged with the writing "REAL SITIO Y VILLA DE ARANJUEZ".

The arms were designed by Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent (1915-2005), Chronicler King of Arms of the Kingdom of Spain, and painted by the local artist Manuel Saavedra Roca.
Red and white are the colours of the House of Austria. The arms feature the Cross of St. James, recalling the first lords of Aranjuez, a representation of the Royal Palace and waves representing river Tagus.
[Municipal website]

Santiago Dotor & Ivan Sache, 29 June 2015

El Real Cortijo de San Isidro


Flag of El Real Cortijo de San Isidro - Image by José Luis Lindo Martínez, 11 February 2017

El Real Cortijo de San Isidro (602 inhabitants in 2013; 1,126 ha) is located 10 km north-east of Aranjuez.
The "San Isidro Royal Estate" was established by a Royal Order signed on 24 December 1766, which defined a plot of 534 fanegas to be planted with grapevine and olive trees "under the direction of Josef Placi, named Royal Estate, and enclosed partially by a wall and partially by a fence". The Casa Grande (lit., Big House; Manor) was erected in 1770, including private apartments for the monarchs. The architect Jaime Marquet initiated the building of the oratory, which was completed by his successor, Manuel Serrano, and consecrated in 1771. Deemed too small to welcome all the labourers working on the estate, the oratory was replaced by a Royal Chapel dedicated on 15 May 1788 to St. Isidore the Labourer, the patron saint of Madrid.

The Royal Estate was set up as an experimental farm. Within 20 years,128,000 grapevines and 25,000 olive trees were planted. Grapes and olives were processed in the Royal Cellar, a model factory built in 1782 by Manuel Serrano upon Charles III's request. Aimed at boosting the economical restoration of the kingdom, the Royal Estate soon became a matter of international admiration. Townsend, who visited Aranjuez in 1786-1787, was impressed by the organization of the estate, the dimensions of the cellar and the machinery used there; he stated that olive oil was "not lower in quality than the best produced in Italy and France". The visitor also insisted on the stylistic beauty of the buildings. Unaltered since its erection, the Royal Cellar is made of a main gallery, of 325 m in length, contains 187 niches each including a clay tank for wine, and of a smaller gallery, of 120 m in length, dedicated to oil processing.
The Royal Estate was transferred in 1795 by Charles V to Manuel Godoy; reincorporated to the Royal domain in 1798, the estate was subsequently owned by different noble lineages. The Marquis of La Laguna eventually offered the Royal Estate to Queen Isabel II.

After the Civil War, the Royal Estate was sold in 1944 to the Instituto Nacional de Colonización, a body of the Ministry of Agriculture established by a Decree adopted on 18 October 1939, by its last private owner, the 4th Marquis de Campo Ameno, Silverio Fernández de Cotarelo y de Ovies; the 30 labourers once hired by the Marquis were supplemented by another 108 colonists coming from Aranjuez, Villaconejos, Colmenar de Oreja, and Villarejo de Salvanés. Subsequent colonists came from Arag&ocaute;n, Galicia, Extremadura, Castile, León, and Andalusia. The Royal Estate was considered as a model for the new plan of colonization set up by the Francoist regime.
The submunicipal entity of El Cortijo Real de San Isidro was established by a Decree adopted on 23 August 1957 by the Spanish Government. León Ruiz Pérez was appointed the first mayor of the new entity on 26 October 1957.

A Decree signed on 27 February 2008 by the Village Mayor, Juan Carlos Martínez Lesma, commissioned José Luis Lindo Martínez, official Chronicler of the town of Aranjuez, to write a memoir supporting proposed symbols for the village.
The proposed symbols, approved on 17 April 2009 by the Village Council, are described as follows:

Flag: In proportions 2:3, diagonally divided per bend green and blue. In the center the coat of arms of the submunicipal entity.
Coat of arms: Argent an image of St. Isidore the Labourer a base vert a building or masoned sable with three gates azure. The shield surmounted by a Spanish Royal crown.

Blue / azure recalls the Spanish monarchy, to which El Real Cortijo belonged for centuries.
Green / vert is the colour of the fields and of the crops at the origin of the establishment of the Royal Estate.
The arms are canting, showing St. Isidore and the entrance gate of the Royal Cellar.

On 4 May 2009, the Directorate General of Cooperation of the Community of Madrid informed the Village Council that the Royal Academy of History had rejected the proposed symbols. The Academy found "inadmissible" the representation of a specific building instead of a generic one (for instance, a castle or a bridge), as used in heraldic designs.
The designer of the rejected symbols submitted a rebuttal on 19 May 2009, recalling the history and idiosyncrasy of the place. The symbols were submitted on 22 February 2011 to the Community of Madrid for approval.
[José Luis Lindo Martínez. El escudo y bandera de une entidad local menor en la Comunidad de Madrid. Actas III Jornadas de Heráldica y Vexilología Municipales, Madrid, 4-5 November 2010. Ediciones Hidalguía, 2013]
[José Luis Lindo Martínez. Fiestas patronales San Isidro 2011]

Ivan Sache, 11 February 2017