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Royal Sites in Castile-León

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  • Royal Palace at La Granja de San Ildefonso. San Ildefonso or La Granja, Segovia © Turespaña

    Royal Palace at La Granja de San Ildefonso. San Ildefonso or La Granja, Segovia © Turespaña

  • Hispano-Arab arches in the royal monastery of Santa Clara. Tordesillas © Turespaña

    Hispano-Arab arches in the royal monastery of Santa Clara. Tordesillas © Turespaña


Life and customs of old kings

The Royal Sites are a series of interesting buildings belonging to the National State Heritage. They were founded by the successive monarchs throughout the history of Spain. Although they were first built to be used by the Royal Family, their doors are open to tourists and visitors. This route goes from Segovia to Tordesillas, and from Tordesillas to Burgos, the four Royal Sites situated in the region of Castile-León.

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It is well worth allowing two or three days for this route. We'll start near the city of Segovia, where two of the four Royal Sites in Castile-León can be found. They are both splendid sites built during the 18th century and their style goes from Classicist Baroque to Neoclassicism.

La Granja Royal Palace is situated about 11 kilometres south of Segovia. Its name comes from an old farm ("granja" in Spanish) belonging to the monastery of El Parral in Segovia, which was bought by King Philip V of Spain in 1724. For two centuries for Spanish monarchs used it as a summer residence. Philip V started the works to extend the palace and they continued throughout the 18th century. The current site is has the Palace in the centre and is designed by the architect Teodoro Ardemans.

Some of the many annexed rooms are the Royal Collegiate Church of the Santísima Trinidad, where there is a relic chapel in which King Philip V and his second wife, Isabella Farnese, are buried; the Old Casa de las Damas house, which houses the Tapestry Museum; the Casa de los Oficios house and the Old Casa de Canónigos house.

Its Royal Gardens, which make the site look slightly French, are also impressive. 26 fountains with classical sculptures are scattered around the flowerbeds and wooded areas.

From La Granja Royal Palace we can get to the nature areas of the Valsaín pinewood, the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains and the Navacerrada mountain pass and resort.

The Royal Palace is situated just 15 kilometres west of Ríofrío. Isabella Farnese commissioned this building in 1751 as a relaxation and hunting lodge in the Riofrío royal game reserve. We'll get to the palace by crossing its 625 hectare forest, while seeing deer and fallow deer that live there. The building is inspired by the Italian style and it houses a Hunting Museum.

La Granja Royal Palaces and Riofrío are very close to the city of Segovia, with many monuments, Romanesque churches, the Gothic Alcázar palace and cathedral, and its impressive Roman aqueduct.

To get to the third Royal Site we'll need to travel 117 kilometres to the village of Tordesillas (Valladolid). Here there is the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara, a palace that was built around 1340, commissioned by Alfonso XI. His son Pedro I finished it and gave it to his daughters in 1363 to turn it into a women's convent. It was extended in the 15th century and is one of the best examples of Gothic-Mudejar architecture in Spain. Inside we can find Arab Baths, some of the best preserved in Spain.

Finally, we'll head towards the city of Burgos, 155 kilometres away from Tordesillas, where we'll visit the Santa María la Real de las Huelgas Monastery. It was founded in 1187 by King Alfonso VIII and his wife Leonor, as a women's convent, with the aim of using it as a Royal Pantheon. Here you will find the sepulchres of the monastery's founding monarchs and his son Henry I of Castile, as well as of many infantes and noblemen from the royal family of Castile-León.

It was built in two stages. During the first stage (late 12th century) the Romanesque cloister ("Las Claustrillas") was built, as well as the Chapel of La Asunción. In the second stage (13th century), the rest of monastery was built, following the Cistercian style. In the cloister of San Fernando we'll find the Rich Medieval Fabric Museum. The entire site is surrounded by the remains of the old walls, with its defensive tower.

Both the village of Tordesillas and, of course, the city of Burgos, offer visitors many other attractions: monuments, culture and entertainment.

We can always extend this route by stopping at attractive spots. On our way to Riofrío towards Tordesillas we cross the villages of Arévalo (Segovia) and Medina del Campo (Valladolid), with their important artistic heritage. And between Tordesillas and Burgos we can visit, for example, the village of Simancas and the cities of Valladolid and Palencia.


What to see on the route

Other routes of interest

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