San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Travel to the magnificent El Escorial Monastery Palace, a historical residence in the medieval town of San Lorenzo del Escorial. The Royal Monastery of El Escorial is known as the eighth wonder of the world, and in 1984, was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
This work of universal dimension functions as a royal palace, museum, and school. It was founded in the 16th century by King Philip II of Spain, after his victory against the French, in the battle of San Quintin. From here he ruled both his court and the Spanish Empire. King Philip II shared his power with the ecclesiastical Roman Catholic Church who supported him in his fight against the Protestant Reformation taking root throughout Europe, in the 16th century. During his long reign he devoted himself and invested much of the incoming New World gold and riches towards this religious war.
King Philip II chose Spanish architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, to design and build the Royal Monastery. He originally worked on Rome’s St. Peters Basilica. The Monastery is host to a magnificent collection of art and frescoes, compared by many to the Vatican’s. Together King Philip II and Juan Bautista, collaborated on the design of El Escorial with the goal of making it a symbol of the Christian World. It took over 20 years to complete.
El Escorial once belonged to the Hieronymite Monks, who chronicled its progress. Since then it has been passed on to the Order of Saint Augustine. After your tour, enjoy lunch in one of the local restaurants, before returning to Madrid.