Just over 50 km north of Madrid we find one of the most important royal complexes in the world.
It is the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a huge enclosure in which we can find: a royal palace, a basilica, a library, a monastery and perhaps the best known of the place, a pantheon, where a large part of the Spanish kings.
Its architectural richness, its size and its history unofficially made the Monastery of El Escorial the eighth wonder of the world.
What to see in the Monastery of El Escorial
The Palace of Felipe II
A complete visit to El Escorial takes a long time due to the enormous dimensions of the complex and that is precisely why we recommend a guided tour of those offered in this place.
On the one hand we have the Palace of Philip II, also known as the Palace of the Habsburgs.
In it we can visit the Royal Rooms and the Battle Room.
During the visit of all the rooms of the Palace we can admire important paintings and also the beautiful furniture that this royal residence consists of, although it must be said that the design and decoration is quite austere for what is customary in a royal palace, something that It can already be seen on the façade before entering its interior.
The Battle Room is one of the most interesting places in the Monastery. It is a 60-meter-long gallery whose walls represent different historical battles won by the Spanish armies.
The Basilica and the Library
Another very interesting place that you must visit in the Monastery of El Escorial is the Basilica.
It is accessed through the Patio de los Reyes and is considered the core of the complex.
The only place visible from the outside is the façade that overlooks this courtyard, since the rest of the basilica is surrounded by the different rooms of the Monastery. Of this facade it is necessary to emphasize its statues.
Inside the basilica, the frescoes on the vaults stand out, dating from the time of Carlos III.
Its altarpieces, paintings and its chapels are elements that you should not miss and especially the Main Chapel or the Sacristy.
On the other hand, the Library is a place that will surprise you. Its main room is a spectacular vault 59 meters long, highlighting above all the frescoes on the ceiling.
On the sides we have beautiful hardwood shelves with thousands of incunabula.
The Pantheon of Kings
The Pantheon of the Kings is perhaps the best known place in the El Escorial Monastery and is also called the Royal Crypt.
Any visit to El Escorial must include this famous corner where the vast majority of the Spanish kings are buried.
There are the tombs of 26 kings and queens of the Bourbons and the Habsburgs, except Fernando VI and Felipe V who are in other palaces. We remember that the Catholic Monarchs, Juana la Loca and Felipe I meet in the Royal Chapel of Granada.
It should be noted that the Counts of Barcelona, parents of Juan Carlos I, were not kings but they will also be buried in this place although they are currently in an adjoining room called Pudridero. the place where the mortal remains remain for 25 years.
In other adjoining rooms is the Pantheon of Infants where princes, infants and queens who have not been mothers of kings are buried. As a curiosity, it should be noted that there are no more free graves, so alternatives should be studied for when Juan Carlos I and Doña Sofía die.
Brief history of the Monastery of El Escorial
Philip II was the one who ordered the construction of a palace in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
The reason was to commemorate the victory in the Battle of San Quentin over the French that took place on the day of San Lorenzo in 1557.
As in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, the work was started by Juan Bautista de Toledo and continued after his death by his disciple Juan de Herrera, officially ending the works in 1584, although the basilica was completed 2 years later.
In its beginnings, the Jerónimos monks lived there until they were expelled in 1814 after being looted by French troops. Later they returned but after the Confiscation they were expelled again.
Currently some Augustinian monks live in it thanks to Alfonso XII who handed over the custody of the building to them.
You can find more information on the official page of the Monastery of El Escorial.