The Formal Gardens of La Granja

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The formal gardens of La Granja are on three sides of the palace. The gardens cover over 1,500 acres and I loved what I saw but didn’t manage to see everything. Let’s start!

A brief history

Philip V spent his childhood in France and it is thought he wanted to emulate the gardens there, particularly the gardens of Versailles. Rene Carlier designed the gardens of La Granja and after his death Esteban Boutelou (the resident gardener at Aranjuez) and Esteban Marchand continued his work.

Axis of Fame

The Parterre of Fame is a slightly sunken, formal garden with clipped box hedges, and roses and colourful annuals in beds bordered by box.There are large white statues of Greek mythical characters and formal urns throuhgout the gardens. The urns were cast in lead and painted. The Parterre of Fame is beautifully kept – hardly a leaf out of place and there is no sign of box caterpillar. The garden was remade in 1849 in the English style and this is what we see today.

Looking down the garden from the palace

The Fountain of Fame at the far end of the garden apparently has an extremely high jet of water, 130 ft, but none of the fountains were playing when we visited. This fountain dates from c.1730. Fame on her horse Pegasus stands victorious at the top of the fountain with defeated and fallen Moorish figures at her feet. The fountain represents the victory of the Christians over the Moors but also the legitimacy of Philip V as the ruler of Spain. The figures in the pond represent the main rivers in Spain.

Fountain of Fame in La Granja
The Fountain of Fame

Beyond the fountains are groves of trees. These were originally poplars but now there are mainly pine trees. And at the end of the grove is the remains of a wall? Not sure what stood here and I can’t find any further information on the internet.

Axis of Fame Woods in La Granja
The Grove of Fame woods
Axis of Fame in La Granja
Wall at the end of the Grove of Fame woods leading down towards the Botanic Gardens (R)

The Palace Parterre and the New Cascade

This garden and the New Cascade are immediately in front of the palace. In fact the king could lie in bed and watch the cascade! This part of the garden had already been created in 1722.

The New Cascade at La Granja
Looking down the New Cascade
The cascade and gardens from the palace terrace

The Old Cascade and Axis of the Winds

And on either side of the Palace Parterre are two further formal gardens with water, fountains and trees.

Grove of the Shells
Grove of the Shells

The Sunken Garden

A small sunken garden lies behind the New Cascade. It has an old Cedar of Lebanon and old pine trees, and a coy statue!

Axis of the Selva

The Axis of the Selva is on the side of the palace and offers another large fountain, views of the palace from below, and the Garden del Potosi beyond.

Fuente de la Selva

The Garden of the Potosi is a small area of parkland with some wonderful old trees.

Jardin del Potosi
Gate into the Garden del Potosi

The formal gardens around the palace will repay endless repeat visits and every time you will see something new and different. I wish it was closer to London!

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