El Escorial, a monastery? a Palace and a mausoleum

El Escorial Travel Blog

 › entry 35 of 42 › view all entries
It's called a Monastery, but it's also a palace. We drove here from the north, Segovia, instead of from Madrid, which most people probably come from to visit. It's a huge building, 650 feet long by 500 feet wide, and a good thing that we saw in Rick Steve's tour book that it is COLD in there! And it really gets cold, so bring a jacket or sweater! Photos are not allowed inside the palace, and we had to check the camera at the coat check, which meant extra walking to retrieve it after the tour. When we arrived, we got a parking space right across from the main entrance, which turned out to to be the exit! Parking was metered, so we budgeted a couple of hours for the meter, and the tour. The huge plaza in front of El Escorial was full of school children on break, they were having a good time running around, playing ball, etc.
The school is right at the El Escorial itself. The El Escorial is more than 400 years old, built during Spain's golden age by the very Catholic King Philip II. It was the headquarter of the Inquisition.
At the Hall of the Battles, huge paintings on the wall in trompe l'oeil style looked like tapestry showing Spain's great victory over France at San Quentin. In the gallery there are many portraits of the kings and royals. unfortunately most were unattractive looking, not the fault of the painters.
An interesting and unique place to visit here is the Royal Pantheon, downstairs to the crypt, where four centuries of Kings and queens who were mothers of kings were resting in very lavish, and gilded coffins. Down the hall are many more lesser royalty, including children, it is rather sobering to see so many children under 7 here.
The basilica is a unique place inside the palace too, perhaps that's why it's also the monastery. It is a very large basilica for the private use of the royalty.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
El Escorial
photo by: mkrh