|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 Lawrences
day), and as a way of thanking God for his
victory, Felipe II started construction on the
San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
photograph above shows a section of the monastery
||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.
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
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.
Felip II's The Royal