Monastery of San Lorenzo
Calle de Juan de Borbon y Battemberg, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
www.patrimonionacional.es/en… - +34 918 905 902
Monastery of San Lorenzo San Lorenzo de El Escorial Reviews
The 8th wonder of the word Mar 20, 2012
The Escorial t is one of the great monuments of Spanish architecture and one of the great treasure houses of Spanish art. Philip built the Escorial to honour the wishes of his father, Emperor Charles V (d 1558), who in his will had specified the creation of a religious foundation in which he was to be buried alongside his wife, Isabella of Portugal (d 1539). In addition to this function as a royal mausoleum (almost every Spanish monarch from Charles V onwards has been buried there), the Escorial was built as a palace, a monastery, and a seminary, all centred on an imposing domed church. The huge complex was begun in 1563, with Juan Bautista de Toledo as architect; he died in 1567 and was succeeded by Juan de Herrera, under whom it was officially completed in 1584 (although construction went on for some time after this).
Externally the Escorial is built of grey granite and is overpoweringly austere, with forms of almost geometric clarity and virtually no ornament. Internally, however, it contains an extraordinary wealth of decoration (including vast areas of wall and ceiling frescos), which engaged teams of artists long after Philip's death.
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El Escorial Feb 28, 2010
The huge complex of El Escorial was built between 1563 and 1584 (commissioned by Felipe II as a mausoleum for the tomb of his father, Carlos I).
Highlights are the Basilica, the King’s Apartments, Pantheon of the Kings, Chapter Houses, Library, Gallery of Battles, Main Staircase, Strolling Gallery, Courtyard of the Kings and the Architecture Museum.
Impressive to see, very worth visiting!!
Some practical information about El Escorial (Feb. 2010):
• Opening hours: in winter (Oct. – March) from 10 am – 5 pm, in summer (April- Sept.) from 10 am – 6.00 pm
• Closed on quite a few Holidays (see the website)
• Closed on Mondays
• Admission € 8 (free on Wednesdays for EU citizens), guided tour € 10
• Audio tour € 3
• Garden: free entrance
Unfortunately it is not allowed to take photos inside the monastery. See my Madrid blog for more (outside of the building) photos.
More information at: www.patrimonionacional.es (partly in English, mostly in Spanish).
Part of the City trip Madrid travel blog
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May 16, 2007
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is still a working monastery today, but it has historically been much more. King Philip II ordered it constructed in the 16th century as a mausoleum for his parents, the Emperor Charles V (a.k.a. Carlos I of Spain) and Isabel of Portugal. Ever since then, it has been the favored burial site of nearly all members of Spain's royal family, all the way up to Juan de Borbon, father of the current king. The resting place of the Spanish royals, the Panteon de los Reyes (Pantheon of Kings), is part of the complex open to tourists.
Inseparable from the mausoleum and monastery was Philip II's personal palace. Since so much of El Escorial was envisioned by Philip II, the complex gives great insight into the life of this ruler. The rooms of the palace are simple and austere, as fit Philip's attitude toward his office. He had no crown and refused to be called "your majesty." Although there is a nice collection of paintings from Philip II's time, there are no great Renaissance marvels here, nor are there any Baroque flights of fancy. All the decoration was reserved for the church buildings.
For me, the most memorable room of the palace was the map room, indicative of Philip II's character. The classical image of Philip II was of a man dressed in black, sitting at a desk (preserved here), poring over information gathered from all over his empire, which included not only Spain, but also Italy, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines. Seeing the walls of this room covered with highly detailed, 16th-century maps of places like Japan might be surprising at first, but it's important to remember that Philip ruled a global empire, and was prone to micro-management.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a magnificent memorial to Spain's golden age. From its globe-spanning empire to its internalized religiosity, this impressive complex is a capsule of the time when Spain was the world's greatest power, and a portrait in stone of one man who ruled it.
Part of the 2007: living in Barcelona travel blog
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