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El Escorial, officially known as San Lorenzo de El Escorial, is a town located approximately 28 miles away from Madrid. It’s famous for its monastery built by King Philip II, the El Escorial Palace, the Biblioteca, and the Basilica. El Escorial serves as a burial site for Spain’s rulers and members of the royal family. The design of the entire site was based on the descriptions of the Temple of Solomon. The layout and structure of the palace were modified and designed to accommodate a convent, a basilica, a school, a library, and the famous monastery. The entire complex contains approximately 160km of corridors. This is one enormous edifice that portrays the devoutly religious outlook of King Philip II.
Hordes of people come to visit the impressive El Escorial Monastery each year. Pope Benedict the XVI also visited this ancient site in 2011. Like several other cathedrals in Western Europe that take the form of a cross, this Gothic cathedral takes the form of a Greek Cross. The four arms of the Greek cross meet at the main altar that lies under a tall circular dome. The Basilica has 45 altars that showcase beautiful paintings of saints and bronze sculptures created by Leone Leoni.
Just beneath the high altar of the basilica, lies the burial crypt, a vault that’s become the resting place for the Kings of Spain, including Philip II. Don’t forget to see the Pantheon of the Princes as you tour the basilica. It’s the burial place for the princes, princesses, and their consorts.
The library is as impressive as the other buildings in the compound. The frescoes on the ceiling painted by Pellegrino Tibaldi, the marble flooring, the carved wooden shelves, and the large bookcases exude opulence. The library holds many important documents, some of which were donated by King Philip II himself. It contains an extensive cartographic collection together with 5,000 manuscripts written in Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Latin. Explore the library and the Monastery on a Private Tour arranged by Madrid City Tours. You’ll have 4 hours to explore the Palace, the mausoleum, the chapter houses, and the Basilica with transportation in a luxury car or minivan.
Take a walk through the lower cloister and the main staircase, and you’ll discover a world full of religious art. There are nearly 62 frescoes here, depicting various religious scenes. They were all created by famous artists like Tibaldi, Carvajal, Cambiasso, and Barroso. This architectural monument is unlike any other you’ve ever seen. Right from the architecture to the furnishings, there’s much to be appreciated. Combine a trip to the monastery and the lower cloister with a visit to the Valley of Cuelgamuros. We have a special Monastery of Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen Tourwhere we will show you impressive sights and tell you all you ought to know about the war memorial.
If you’d like to explore Escorial, the Valley of the Fallen, and Madrid in one day, take the Escorial and Madrid Tour instead.
Complete your trip to Madrid with a Flamenco Show. We’ve got a unique Escorial and Flamenco show tour just for you. We’ll show you the monastery, the basilica, the Pantheons of the Royal Family, the Palace, the Chapterhouses and the Cloister, and we’ll bring you back to Madrid for a Flamenco show. So catch a show, sip a Tinto de Verano, and enjoy the evening in true Spanish style.
If you’d like to explore other places on your trip to Escorial, view our Escorial and Valley of the Fallen + Toledo package. It’s an eleven-hour tour that takes you through some of the most iconic landmarks in both Escorial and Toledo. Leave the itinerary and transportation to us. Just grab your camera and get ready for a journey of exploration in Spain.