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San Lorenzo de El Escorial is more than the mausoleum of the Spanish monarchs; it is a palace and monastery complex. Located in the town of El Escorial, about 41kms. to the northwest of Madrid's center, the palace/monastery is well worth the visit. It can be a stopover on the way to Avila and Segovia (by train or car), or you can get a guided tour from one of the tour companies in Madrid.
After winning the Battle of St. Quentin on August 10, 1557, (Saint Lawrence’s day), and as a way of thanking God for his victory, Felipe II started construction on the San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
The Basilica
The Royal Apartment
The Crypt of the Kings
The Town of Escorial
The Monastery
BBC Education El Escorial
Directions to the Escorial

The photograph above shows a section of the monastery and gardens.
The coffins of the kings are located in the Pantheon de los Reyes. The marble caskets of almost all the Spanish monarchs since Carlos V can be found here, as well as a number of relatives.

The photograph to the left shows the entrance to the Pantheon de los Reyes, which is located under the monastery.

The stairway leading down to the crypt is adorned in marble, as is the crypt itself. While the palace is some- what plain-looking, the monastery and pantheon are spectacularly decorated.

On my 1999 visit I took a bus tour of El Escorial and Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caidos. I happened to get an excellent tour guide, and as I was traveling alone it provided an opportunity to talk with some fellow travelers. For me, one of the biggest drawbacks to guided bus tours is the limited time provided for photographing and exploring on one's own.

In 2001 I returned to El Escorial with my family by train. After a short bus ride from the train station, we left the bus station and followed the other tourists to the monastery.

View Felip II's The Royal Apartment

 


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Information on this page is from my June 2001 visit to Spain.

This page last updated June 2007