The Fresneda in the Escorial

The International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens

VII Annual Award, 1996

The Fresneda is a sequence of ash groves and pastures, artificial lakes, dams and canals, buildings and gardens situated to the south-east of the Monastery of San Lorenzo and the Escorial at the foot of the Sierra of Guadarrama. Commissioned by Philip II in 1561 as part of an extensive network of hydraulic, environmental and infrastructural transformations stretching from Madrid to the mountain-tops and designed to symbolize his unification and centralization of power.
He employed Dutch hydraulic experts to oversee the creation of the four lakes, the highest and largest of which provides water to the other three lakes and the whole complex through a system of dams and conduits that is still partly in working order.

Text taken from the 1996 Carlo Scarpa Prize Statement, edited by the Jury.