Built around 1790, el Estanque de Chinescos is, according to many locals and visitors, the most successful ensemble in the entire Prince’s Garden in Aranjuez, a town about 30 miles south of Madrid.
The pond is the creation of Spanish architect Juan de Villanueva, who was joined by Pablo Botelou for the gardening work. This artificial pond houses three islets, each one adorned with a monumental milestone, the Chinese temple, the classical temple, and the obelisk.
The Chinese temple was originally built by de Villanueva and featured two distinct bodies that were connected by a roof with walls that resembled Chinese openwork frets and a steep slope. The current one, which González Velázquez repaired, is made of wood and is situated on a circular island with a surface area that is significantly greater than the temple. It has an eight-sided curved roof that gives it an oriental aspect and ends in a little lantern. A similarly-styled wooden railed walkway leads to it. There are four parallel perspectives and an equal number of entrances with pointed arches and neo-Gothic styling that feature latticework on their buttresses.
The classical temple is Neo-Greek in style and it is supported by 10 Ionic columns made of marble, which were brought from La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia). Between each column there used to be statues of Egyptian idols, which were looted during the French Invasion of Spain in 1808, while the interior of the dome was decorated with paintings by Zacarías González Velázquez. The third of the landmarks is a stone obelisk about 23 feet high, resting on a rocky promontory.
The pond is delimited by a small brick wall and there used to be a rustic railing of which today a large part has been lost. A small “Chinese boat” was also built, similar to a small gondola, to navigate the pond. Classic nature and oriental architecture coexist harmoniously in this space, creating that romantic atmosphere so representative of the first third of the 18th century.
Know Before You Go
El Jardín del Príncipe has got plenty of green arrows leading you wherever you want to go in the park. Follow those marked "Estanque de los Chinescos" to find the pond