Monastery of El Escorial

  • Monasterio de El Escorial
  • History
  • Architecture
  • San Lorenzo
  • Other places
  • Getting there

Located in the heart of the Sierra de Guadarrama (on the side of Mount Abantos), just 50 kilometres from Madrid, San Lorenzo de El Escorial is one of the most interesting touristic and cultural towns in the area. Its main attraction is the Monastery and Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Deeply affected by the death of his father, Charles V, in 1558, and with the aim of firmly establishing the House of Austria in Spain, Felipe II commissioned the construction of the San Lorenzo de El Escorial Monastery as a means to create an eternal memorial for his relatives, form a family vault, and compensate for the destruction of a church dedicated to San Lorenzo in the Battle of San Quintin in France.

Under the guidance of Juan Bautista de Toledo, the first stone was laid on 23rd April 1563. Upon his death in 1567, Juan de Herrera took over the work, stamping his own seal on the design, characterised by an emphasis on lines at the expense of decorative elements which may distract those contemplating the building.


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