Real Sitio de San Ildefonso
Castile and Leon
Municipality Real Sitio de San Ildefonso
As with other Royal Sites, successive generations of people in La Granja de San Ildefonso were born and grew up in the shadow of the Royal Palace and its various units.
The old Palace of Valsaín, the first of the Spanish Royal Sites and a nearby locality which is now part of the same municipality, was destroyed by fire in 1697. When it was decided to build another palace, the current location within royal hunting grounds was chosen, as there already existed a small abbey, with a hospital and orchards, not to mention the farm (granja) that explains the origin of the name.
Construction styles responded to the tastes of the Spain’s new ruling dynasty, the House of Bourbon, which came to power in 1701. As work progressed, houses for the construction workers and palace servants were built, giving rise to the original town. Another key development was the construction of the Royal Glass Factory, which was run privately from 1728 and as a royal factory from 1734. It was designed to supply glassware to the nation and was intended to supplant imports with home-produced glass. In time, its production would be exported to Europe. It specialized in window glass, mirrors, flat glass and cut-glass vessels, both coloured and enamelled. The building as it stands today was built as designed by Juan de Villanueva and Bartolomé Real (1746).
It was Charles III (r. 1759-1788) who promoted the design and planning of the town. La Granja at that time had just a few isolated houses, a handful of buildings in the service of the Royal Family and the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose construction had begun in 1743. In 1761 Charles III bought a large tract of land from the city of Segovia, coinciding exactly in terms of surface area with the municipal area of today. He then designed a new layout based on moving the existing walls of the Royal Palace outwards so as to fit more buildings within. The cemetery was moved outside the town walls, the first time this had been done in Spain. The population of La Granja gradually began to expand in response to these works and the growth of the Royal Glass Factory.
La Granja enjoys a thriving economy, linked to the tourism generated by its historical monuments and buildings and the Glass Museum housed in the former Royal Glass Factory. The natural beauty of the area – the Valsaín pine woods and the Sierra de Guadarrama – also attracts rural and other kinds of tourism.
Tel: +34 921 47 39 53