Cuadernos de campo 2024


In the 2024 edition, Patrimonio Nacional and PHotoESPAÑA present a three-year programme entitled «Cuadernos de campo» (Field Notebooks), which focuses on the natural landscapes of the Royal Sites. This initiative has been made possible thanks to the sponsorship of ACCIONA and is proof of the commitment of the three institutions to the environment and its protection. 


The first edition is dedicated to the Royal Site of La Granja de San Ildefonso, which this year commemorates the three hundredth anniversary of its creation by Philip V of Spain. Javier Vallhonrat, winner of the 1995 National Photography Prize, has collaborated in this project, whose lucid gaze reveals the privileged ecosystem of this Royal Site. 


In La Granja de San Ildefonso, the channelling, exploitation and enjoyment of water resources have been the main protagonists since its foundation and have marked the personality of the environment over the centuries, showing in a particularly beautiful way the wise human intervention in nature and the landscape.  


The original hydraulic system is still in operation, which allows us to enjoy the fabulous water effects during the summer season, and channels the contributions of the streams of Morete, El Carnero, El Nevero, La Chorranca and Peñalara to the pond called El Mar, which regulates the supply and feeds the fountains characterised by their spectacular jets and water features. 


Javier Vallhonrat shows us, through delicate metaphors, the richness and uniqueness of the relationship between water and the natural environment in which it is integrated, as well as the human elements involved in its use.  


This exhibition is completed with an original audiovisual creation specifically conceived and produced for The Cube in the Royal Collections Gallery, accessed through these gardens. The cycle will culminate in September with an exhibition of photographs by Javier Vallhonrat at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, which can be visited until December, and the publication of a publication, the first of the aforementioned Cuadernos de campo (Field Notebooks).  

A working day at La Granja by Javier Vallhonrat 

As we go uphill, the forest becomes more intricate and chaotic, and is dotted with oaks, Valsaín pines, holly trees, wild apple trees, broom and other species that give it a disorderly and spontaneous air. We adopt a slow pace that allows us to observe in detail the changes in light, the densities and transparencies in the forest, the buds on the trees, the bends and cascades of the streams, and the water dammed by the sluice gates on the dividers. 

I work immersed in this natural niche, overwhelmed by the music of the waters that descend more than a thousand metres from the peaks of Peñalara, the hill of Morete or El Nevero, nourishing this ecosystem, and feeding the hydraulic system of the three-hundred-year-old gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso. 

We take advantage of the last shadows of the afternoon to photograph the waterfalls that cascade at the bottom of the cliffs and, now in twilight, retrace our steps and paths until we reach the palace gate again.