www: El Escorial Council page
www: Royal Seat of San Lorenzo of El Escorial
www: see how to get there (timetables, prices) from the official transport website
www: Benedictine Abbey of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos
49 km from Madrid.
Segovia: 54 Km.
close to Madrid, and among the most interesting
of nearby sites, San Lorenzo del Escorial
(El Escorial in short) is certainly
worth a visit. Among other attractions is
a huge monastery built in the herreriano
style by order of king Philip II. Inside
a sumptuously decorated chamber of the monastry
are buried many of Spain's past monarchs.
The surrounding landscape is pleasant, and
during summer the moderate climate provides
an escape from Madrid's sometimes stifling
temperatures. Other interesting monuments
are: the Casita del Infante or
Casita de arriba and the Casita
del Príncipe or Casita de
abajo, both by Juan de Villanueva.
Inside there are a good colletions of pictures
by Lucas Jordán and Giaquinto; the Real Coliseo de Carlos III and
the famous Silla de Felipe II,
or Piedra de la Herrería
where Phillip II watched the progress of
However, the best in this trip are the
superb views and impressive panorama of
Pantheon of the Kings is situated in a circular
chapel directly beneath the chancel of the
Basilica. It contains the remains of monarchs
and of queens who were mothers of monarchs,
from the Emperor Charles V to modern times.
The exceptions are King Philip V and King
Ferdinand VI, who are buried in their respective
foundations of La Granja de San Ildefonso and Las Salesas Reales (the Church
of Santa Bárbara in Madrid). The
remains of other members of the Royal Family
are buried in the Pantheon of Infantes.
Both the Monastery and the areas of the
complex used as a palace were decorated
by Italian painters summoned by Philip II
to El Escorial. They include Zuccaro, Tibaldi
and Cambiaso, who painted the frescoes in
some of the most prominent spaces, such
as the library, the sacristy, the chapter
houses, the lower cloister, the main staircase
and the gallery of the battles. Among the
pieces of sculpture at El Escorial are a
number by Monegro. There are also several
bronze figures of Christ on the cross, by
major Italian artists of the 16th and 17th
centuries, including one by Bernini. The
most celebrated crucified Christ is the
figure in white marble by Cellini. King
Charles II added the redos in the sacristy,
dominated by a masterpiece of Claudio Coello, The Adoration of the Sacred Form.
Also dating from the same reign is the magnificent
series of frescoes on the ceilings of the
Basilica and the main staircase, by Luca
El Escorial is most easily reached by Cercanías trains. Departures are hourly from both
the Atocha and Chamartín stations. Buses to El Escorial can be taken
from Herranz Buses departing from the bus
station at Moncloa. By car, one should
take the N-VI (Carretara de la Coruña).