The Royal Site of San Ildefonso

Real Sitio de San Ildefonso, Segovia, Castilla y León.
Medal/Award in the category Conservation in the year 2010.

Dating of the building: 18th century.

Applicant: Town Hall of the Real Sitio de San Ildefonso.

Reason for the award :

For the management model and exemplary coherence that the San Ildefonso Town Council- La Granja has shown in its determination to safeguard, revitalize, preserve and integrate the urban fabric in the landscape, palace, gardens, trade houses, manufacture of crystals and other courtly elements that make up this Royal Site.

The Town Council of the Royal Site of San Ildefonso had to coordinate all the recovery initiatives of the sites with National Heritage and the Ministry of the Environment since for a long time it only governed 20 percent of the municipal territory.

The Royal Site of San Ildefonso is located at the foot of the north face of the Sierra de Guadarrama, at the head of the Eresma River, with mountains, bushes, pastures but above all an enormous forest mass, the Valsaín mountains, made up of 14,000 hectares of local wild pine, where more than eight hundred species of vascular flora and much other fauna coexist. Since the Middle Ages, it belonged to the Community of Villa y Corte de Segovia until Philip V became infatuated with the beauty of the place and ordered the construction of a miniature Versailles, in the image and likeness of the place where he spent his childhood. Since then, the first of the Spanish Bourbons decided to move his court there, which forced the design and construction of a whole small town ex novo, equipped with paving, lighting, a network of water supply and sanitation, washhouses, fountains, walks, reforestation, all in line with the incipient ideas of enlightened despotism. The king also promoted the founding of new industries such as the Royal Glass Factory and the Royal Workshop of the Mechanical Saw of Valsaín.

This 18th-century splendour fell into ruin and neglect until after the Civil War. It is in the last quarter of the 20th century when the Town Council, founded only in 1810, but without public ownership, since everything was still owned by the Crown, begins the long process of urban recovery in San Ildefonso. Previously it had to receive from the Town Council public land in 1980 and the water network in 1995. To add to this, Valsaín, as a natural park, was governed by the Ministry of the Environment, and the palaces de la Granja and Riofrío by National Heritage, leaving the Town Council to administer only about twenty percent of the municipality. That was not an obstacle to acting as an intermediary with the different institutions and agents, to recover and preserve their heritage, enforcing all the assigned powers, and even going so far as to dictate forced expropriations to avoid the privatization of National Monuments, such as Casa de los Infantes, and the Barracks of the Corps Guards, today converted into a National Parador. All these performances led to the award of Europa Nostra.

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