Sabado en España

Sabado en España

Real Sitio de San Ildefonso, Spain – August 6, 2011

Ahh…Saturday in Spain…

I made a lengthy, touristy trip today. I first drove to Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), only to be told it was still closed.  That was disappointing.  That was at about 09:30, so I decided I would drive to San Rafael.  Leslie and I have been through that town before.  I thought it would be worthwhile to stop there and explore.  When I arrived, for whatever reason, I decided not to stop.

Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) closed again.

I continued north toward Segovia. On the way, I saw a sign for the Palacio Riofrío. As part of my “detour,” I ended up in the small village of Navas de Riofrío. Besides the towns of Patones de Arriba and el Atazar, this must be the smallest village I have explored. I stopped there around 11:00 and had a cup of coffee. There was a large group of people at a table when I sat down. As I was sitting, one of the men asked me in Spanish to take their photo and to post it on Facebook, so I did. They thought that was great.

The bell tower of the Immaculate Conception Church in Navas de Riofrío.
A group of people on the patio of Casa Poli in Navas de Riofrío.
Photograph number two of a group of people on the patio of Casa Poli in Navas de Riofrío.

As I drove north out of Navas de Riofrío, I saw one of the funniest signs I have seen in quite some time.  It was a regular highway sign noting to be aware of game crossing.  However, someone had drawn in a motorbike or bicycle below the deer.  Of course, I had to stop and take a picture.

Some very mobile deer…Cuidado!!

As I continued toward Segovia, I did stumble across another sign for the Palacio Riofrio. I took a left turn and headed to the palace.

Following the signs from Navas de Riofrío, I finally made it to the gate of the grounds of the Palacio y Bosque de Riofrío (Palace and Forest of Riofrío). Riofrío was a hunting palace, built between 1752 and 1759 specifically for Queen Elisabeth Farnese. This palace was on my list of things to see in the Madrid area. The tour was about an hour-long, in Spanish. That made my head hurt. My Spanish ability is just ok. If I must concentrate for that long to decipher the narrative, I end up hitting the eject button. Regardless, I did enjoy the tour.

Like the other palaces in Spain, one cannot take photos of the interior spaces. Once the tour was over, I went outside and took some pictures of the grounds. The ticket I bought to enter the palace also could be used to enter the Palacio Real de la Granja in San Ildefonso about 10 or 15 kilometers (6.2 or 9.3 miles) away. I have visited that palace two or three times, so I did not want to see it again. Instead, I wanted to tour the gardens, something I had not done very extensively in the past.

The Palacio de Riofrío is on top of the mesa in the distance.
The Palacio de Riofrío.
Looking down the side of the Palacio de Riofrío.
A decoration that fell from the parapet.
Another side of the Palacio de Riofrío. Note the decorations on the parapet that have not fallen.
The royal crest of Queen Elisabeth Farnese on the Palacio de Riofrío.
A panoramic view of the Palacio de Riofrío and the stables.
An outbuilding in very poor shape.
The backside of the stables.
Looking toward the Palacio de Riofrío from the parking area.
View back toward the Palacio de Riofrío.
The royal crest on a metal gate.


When I left the Palacio Riofrío parking lot, I set sail for San Ildefonso. Upon arrival, I ended up parking in the same place I did last year when Lorraine and Aunt Arlene visited us.

After parking, I walked toward the palace and the gardens. As I walked, I could hear a small band playing at Bar Castilla. It consisted of a clarinet player and two drum players. I sat at a table outside and listened. While there, I had a vino tinto and a grilled ham and cheese (sanwich mixto). That was about 14:00.

Entry to the bullring in San Ildefonso.  The warning sign reads, “If you are going to run in the confinements, stay 50 meters from the door of the bullring avoid “heaps” at the entrance do not wait for the bulls less than this distance.”
A garden near the bullring.
The Casa Baños Alojamiento (House Bathrooms Accommodation) is in an old church.
Plaza de los Dolores.
Enjoying the band at Bar Castilla.
A hotel in San Ildefonso.


When I finished, I walked to the Palace gardens. They are utterly amazing. There are dozens of fountains on the grounds. Of all the times I have been to la Granja, the fountains have never been operational. I can only imagine what it is like when the fountains are working. When they do operate, it is all by gravity. There are no pumps on the property. A fantastic feat of engineering for a palace begun in 1720!

Approaching the palace, one could not help but notice all of the beautiful flowers on this August day. They were stunning in their variety and color.

Flowers along the approach to the palace.
The palace chapel.
A lion on the gate at the entrance to the royal gardens.

The gardens at the palace began in the early to the mid-18th century. At 1,500 acres, they are huge. That size equates to 6 square kilometers (2.3 square miles), which is roughly the area of Gibraltar. Yes, Gibraltar! Until I researched the scale, I had no idea. In addition to beautifully manicured gardens, there are untouched areas of forest, numerous vases, and statuary, as well as 26 water fountains. The fountain sculptures are cast in lead and painted to look like bronze. Due to the size of the gardens, sit back and get comfortable, there are many photographs to follow.

Flowers in the garden.
Flowers in the Parterre of Fame.
A sculpture in the Parterre of Fame.
Another view of the sculpture.
Smaller figures at the Fountain of Fame.
The Fountain of Fame.
Detail of the Fountain of Fame.
View toward the Royal Collegiate Church and part of the palace.
The backside of the Fountain of Fame.
A sculpture near the Fountain of Fame.
Detail of the sculpture.
The path toward the Fountain of the Baths of Diana.
The Fountain of the Baths of Diana.
Detail of the Fountain of the Baths of Diana.
Another view of the Fountain of the Baths of Diana.
Departing the Fountain of the Baths of Diana.
The Fountain of the Dragons (lower).
A cottage near Plaza de las Ocho Calles (Eight Streets).
The Plaza de las Ocho Calles (Eight Streets).
Detail of a statue at Plaza de las Ocho Calles (Eight Streets).
Detail of the Hercules fountain.
The Hercules fountain.
A sculpture in front of the Cibeles fountain.
The Cibeles fountain.
Detail of the Cibeles fountain.
The Fountain of Tritons.
Detail of the Fountain of Tritons.
Second detail of the Fountain of Tritons.
The Andromeda fountain.
Detail of the Andromeda fountain.
A portion of the half-moon complex.
Another view of the half-moon complex.
Detail of the Old Cascade.
Detail of the half-moon complex.
The Apollo fountain.
The Old Cascade.
A fence detail near the Old Cascade.
View toward the palace across the Apollo and Minerva fountains.
Some of the inner workings of the antiquated plumbing system for the fountains.
One of the sculptures in the Neptune fountain.
The main sculpture at the Neptune fountain.
Sculpture detail near the Neptune fountain.
View toward the fountain of Three Graces.
Detail near the fountain of Three Graces.
Sculpture near the fountain of Three Graces.
The fountain of Three Graces.
The palace as seen from the fountain of Three Graces.
Detail of the fountain of Three Graces.
Sculpture near the fountain of Three Graces.
A portion of the palace and gardens.
Detail of a vase in the gardens.
Detail of a vase in the gardens with the palace in the background.
The palace viewed from the fountain of Amphitrite.
Detail at the fountain of Amphitrite.
Another detail at the fountain of Amphitrite.
A portion of the gardens behind the palace.
Detail of a sculpture near the palace.
View along the backside of the palace.
Detail of a sculpture of a sphinx and angle near the palace.
The palace surrounds the horseshoe garden.
Detail above a gate to the palace.
Four footballs.
A typical street in San Ildefonso.
A residential area of San Ildefonso.
San Ildefonso skyline.
A globe structure in San Ildefonso.
The globe structure and garden.
An apartment building in San Ildefonso.


When I left San Ildefonso, I drove toward Puerto de Navacerrada. That is my preferred route between home and Segovia. As I have noted before, that is because I like the mountains. It reminds me of Colorado.

When I arrived at Puerto de Navacerrada, I took a left, to the northeast, toward the town of Rascafría. Puerto de Navacerrada is a ski village, so there is a vast parking lot. I stopped there for a few moments to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain down to the valley floor. Somewhere out there in the distance lay Segovia.

When I got back in the car, I continued northeast. The road wound through a magnificent forest. At one point, I stopped and walked around a little. I was surprised to find ferns growing. I do not picture the Madrid area as being the perfect climate for ferns. Regardless, they were beautiful.

The view toward Segovia from Puerto de Navacerrada.
A small stream in the forest.
Ferns near the small stream.
A small pool of water in the forest.


The road wound through the forest, gradually descending to the town of Rascafría. By this point in my long day, I was too tired to stop. However, I made a mental note to return to this very picturesque town with Leslie and Tyler.

After nearly a 350-kilometer (190-mile) loop, I made it back home!

Of all the sights I saw today, my favorite may be the flowers at the entry to the palace in San Ildefonso.

Flowers along the approach to the palace.

2 thoughts on “Sabado en España

  1. Awesome trip. Beautiful photos and the color in the flowers is breathtaking. Gardens are so beautifully manicured with no shortage of fountains. Loved it!

  2. This is an amazing piece of work Terry ! The beauty in your photos is outstanding. I really enjoyed the fountains, palace, statues, scenery and your narrative. Thank you so much for your talent and sharing it with me. Love ❤️ you.

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