A short train journey from Madrid is Aranjuez, a little oasis at the confluence of the Tajo and Jarama rivers on the southern edge of the province of Madrid, where the eighteenth-century Bourbon rulers set up a spring and autumn retreat. The beauty of Aranjuez is its greenery – it’s easy to forget just how dry and dusty most of central Spain is until you come upon this town, with its lavish palaces and luxuriant gardens, which inspired the composer Joaquín Rodrigo to write the famous Concierto de Aranjuez. Famed for its summer strawberries (served with cream – fresas con nata – at roadside stalls) and asparagus, Aranjuez functions principally as a weekend escape from Madrid and most people come out for the day, or stop en route to or from Toledo.

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