El Escorial is definitely a spot you do not want to miss on your trip to Spain. El Escorial is an easy day trip from Madrid and can be reached by train.
I have been to El Escorial many times and would go again. It is a fascinating location.
El Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain and serves as a royal palace, museum, school, and monastery that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. When taking the train from Madrid you will see the massive towers and the long shape of the building as you approach the small town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
Travel Tip – It tends to be windy and very cold, especially when inside the Monastery, so be prepared with jackets and scarves!
From the train station you can walk through a large park (slightly uphill climb) to get to the Monastery and Museums. You can spend all day inside the buildings since they are enormous and have many levels and tons to look at.
Interesting Side Note – The buildings are said to be in the shape of a grill to honor St. Lawrence who was martyred by being roasted to death on a grill in the 3rd Century AD.
There are many sections of the complex to see and you can tour so much of it. You will see the Architectural Museum portion that shows the history of the building with models and drawings. There is also the Royal Pantheon which is a burial site for most of the Spanish kings of the last five centuries, the Habsburgs, and the Bourbons. There are actually a few rooms with tombs and then a staircase that leads to a lower level with a circular room with twenty six marble tombs. The Pantheon of the Princes holds the tombs of princes, princesses, and queens.
From the tombs you usually make your way through galleries and eventually up to the Hall of Battles. The hall has frescos paintings all along the length of both walls depicting important Spanish military battles in great detail. The ceiling in this room is also marvelously decorated. There is also a Chamber of the Infants, a circular construction with small tombs.
My favorite room is the Library. The library is on an upper level and you climb the stairs in one of the towers to reach it. The room is long and narrow with marble floors, wood shelves with delicate glass doors holding the books, frescoes on the ceilings, and large windows with views of the gardens. The room itself is gorgeous and the collections of over 40,000 books with delicate leather binding and elaborate covers are so impressive.
Also you shouldn’t miss the Basilica of San Lorenzo el Real or walking through the Gardens of the Friars which provides impressive views of the entire complex.
El Escorial should not be missed when traveling throughout Spain. Don’t miss it!
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