El Escorial is another World Heritage Site and the historical residence of the King of Spain. On Sunday afternoon, after eating a huge lunch of pasta at a nearby Italian restaurant, my Spanish family took me to San Lorenzo to visit El Escorial.
The monastery was built between 1563 and 1594 by King Felipe II and the whole complex includes a basilica, royal palace, seminary, and a library. It’s huge! We didn’t even get a chance to see everything. Statistics say that it has:
- 2, 673 windows
- 1,200 doors
- 88 fountains
- 86 stairways
- 73 statues
- 16 courtyards
- 80,000 visitors a year
We first saw the Gallery of Battles which is a long hall with paintings depicting battle scenes. There were some pretty gruesome images of headless people lying on the ground…which can be a little traumatizing for a six year old to say the least. Many of the rooms were devoted to paintings featuring the royal family over the years. There was even some El Greco!
The basilica was very grand as apparently there are a total of 45 alters inside it. Underneath the basilica, is the pantheon. Today the pantheon contains the remains of the Spanish royalty over the last five centuries. I tried to take a picture of the tombs but the security guard got mad at me and then Ander pointed to the sign that said ‘no cameras’ and laughed. Geez!
Our last stop inside was the Library which has 40,000 folio volumes from the 15th and 16th centuries, in addition to 4000 manuscripts in Arabic, Latin, and Spanish. I loved the natural lighting thanks to the many windows. Whenever I see huge rooms of books such as this one, I always think the books look so depressed. Nobody reads them!
We went outside to enjoy the garden just as the sun was starting to set and then walked for a bit around the area. It was very peaceful outside with groups of friends and families sitting outside at restaurants. It was nice to have a family outing again. All pile in the car, go for some food, and then drive to a sight-seeing destination. I’ve missed that.