Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Palace of La Granja

We took a day trip to the Guadarrama Mountains near Segovia, to the little town of San Ildefonso to visit the Royal Palace of La Granja. This area was a favorite hunting ground of the Castillian Kings and due to its lush forests, was the site chosen by Philip V of Spain for his new palace, begun in 1721. Philip V modeled La Granja on the palace of Versailles, which was built by his grandfather. He even called in French architects and artists to construct his royal residence. Here's a view of the facade from the approach.

Photos weren't allowed in the palace, but in spite of two guards dogging us, I managed to get a few shots. This one's slightly blurry, but is of one of the 1,300 tapestries that make up the largest Flemish tapestry collection in Europe. It depicts Faith with her foot on Mohammed's head.

A hall which leads to the royal residences and state rooms.

The room where meals with visiting diplomats and dignitaries were taken.

After our tour of the palace we exited into the gardens. They cover more than 1,500 acres and flow down the side of the mountain in the distance. Also flowing down the mountain is a stream of water which is collected in a reservoir and then released to power by gravity the numerous fountains in the gardens.

The king built himself a labyrinth to amuse himself and his guests. We gave it a shot. Here's Andrew wandering in the bushes.

This is a picture of the rear of the palace.

From left to right: Julian, Manuel, Alex, Mrs. Victoria, Me, Andrew. Standing in front of the fountains.

A shot of some of the flowers in the gardens. There are always fresh flowers in season which Philip wanted to decorate the interior of the palace. This is a tradition which is continued to this day. Every room we went in had vases of fresh flowers from the gardens.

A shot of the Guadarrama Mountains. We left the palace and drove a short ways down the mountain.

We stopped at a shady, wooded spot near a stream to eat some lunch.

Andrew and Julian playing soccer in the grass.

I got this shot of a honeybee working the flowers near the stream bank.

Manuel waves goodbye ....

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