Winter royal residence El Escorial

Winter royal residence El Escorial

This palace was built by Philip II in the middle of the sixteenth century, and had long been its residence. The future priests received the religious education there. The monastery is located 45 km from Madrid. Surrounded by forests and foothills, it has always been a refuge from the madding crowd.
Escorial was built by the outstanding master Juan Batista de Toledo and his apprentice Juan de Herrera. In the center of the monastery complex you can see the cathedral, whose main altar was designed by Juan de Herrera.

The altar columns are made of jasper and marble, and there are different religious paintings between them. Altar composition is crowned by the gilded bronze group sculpture and the figures of the kings Carlos and Philip. To light up the altar and see the picture ”The passion of Saint Lawrence”, you should throw 1 euro in the special machine. The cathedral choirs are decorated with the crucifixes by the famous sculptor Cellini.

The most notable convent halls are the Hall of fights, devoted to the victories of Spanish weapon, and the wonderful library, decorated with the paintings of Pellegrino Tibaldi, which symbolize seven sciences: arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and music. The end walls focus on two main sciences: philosophy and theology. The paintings had to serve as a reminder of the wisdom of King Solomon, worshipped by the King Philip. The library keeps the writings of St. Augustine’s, Arab and Greek manuscripts. The books in this unique library are placed with the spines to the inside to keep the precious decorations and bindings.

Apart from the monastery, the building complex of Escorial includes the House of Prince, built in 1775. It is located near the railway station and formed the part of hunting grounds of Carlos IV.

Usually, you can reach Escorial from any train station by electric train. The whole trip will take one hour, and on the way you can admire the spectacular views of Madrid and its suburbs. After arrival of the train, the buses take the tourists straight to the monastery. Usually, the visit to Escorial takes about three hours.