Just 45 miles northeast of Madrid, visiting El Escorial or rather the Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a matter required if you are visiting Madrid and appreciate things like art, architecture or have interest History.
Photography by Rob Shenk
El Escorial World Heritage monument since 1984, was built by King Philip II and was the political center of the Spanish empire, and their residence. It was where Philip II organized his palace and library as well as its pantheon, that of his parents, Emperor Charles I and Isabella of Portugal, and their families and successors, and he built a great basilica and founded a monastery.
The major work began to build the same year in which Felipe II moved the court to Madrid (1562) and ended in 1584, following the plans of Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera. This huge complex served as palace, monastery, library and museum from which the successors of Philip II conducted the largest ever Spanish empire during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Traditionally, construction has been attributed to a promise by Philip II after winning the battle of San Quentin, as compensation for a church dedicated to San Lorenzo which was destroyed in the war. However, the Charter of Foundation and Endowment argues that what caused this imposing building were those of: acknowledge in perpetuity the benefits received from God, ensuring the eternal memory of the Royal Family, and establish a Royal Mausoleum for family members of King Philip II.
The architecture reflects the austere religious Escorial of Philip II and the Renaissance fashion of their time. It’s a long, straight with virtually no exterior trim. El Escorial is divided into different sections of interest: library, palace, basilica, dueling room, royal tomb, gardens … While many of the original works of art are now housed in the Prado Museum. For example, the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights Bosch originally hung in the bedroom of Philip II. After this he decorate the Escorial prestigious Italian painters as Zuccaro, Tibaldi and Cambiaso, who painted in fresco the vault of some of the most important: Library, Vestry, Chapter Houses, Lower Cloister, main staircase and the Gallery of Battles.
In the basilica are preserved two great cenotaphs: the founder, Philip II and Charles I, with their families, on either side of the altar. The cenotaphs are symbolic funerary works, in memory of a person or group of people. Are empty, and in this case the bodies of two of the most illustrious figures in the history of Spain, Charles I and his son Philip II, are buried in a crypt beneath the basilica, called the Pantheon of the Kings.
Photography by _Lev_
The Pantheon of the Kings took a circular chapel beneath the sanctuary, decorated with marble and gilded bronze. There lie the kings and queens of King mothers from Charles I to the present, with few exceptions such as Felipe V and Fernando VI, resting on their foundations, or Joseph Bonaparte, whose remains lie in Les Invalides in Paris. The remains of others of the Royal Family are in the Pantheon of Birth.
Photography by Cruccone
Reaching El Escorial:
El Escorial is located approximately 45 km northeast of Madrid. By car, take Highway 1 (A-6) to M-600. If we train, we have to take line C-8 near Atocha and takes about an hour to get to the station at El Escorial. The fare is 6.10 € return.
Hours and Rates:
El Escorial is closed on Mondays. On schedule from October to March the general tariff is 9 € (guided tour), 8 € (guided tour not long), 7 € (unguided short visit).
Reduced Rate (with appropriate identification) to under 16, school groups, students, disabled, retired from the EU and 65: 6 € (guided tour), 4 € (unguided long visit), 3.50 € (unguided short visit).
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a small and very quiet. On the other hand, has a wide selection of hotels and if our center of operations is in the capital of Spain, may make more sense to lodge in one of these cheap hotels in Madrid, and make a day trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial.