With its location being bounded by mountains and other landforms (Abantos Mountain in the north and Guadarrama in the west), the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial or shortly, El Escorial is indeed an important building in the country. It embraces in its territory a monastery, a basilica, a library, a royal palace and a school.
Regarded as the most representative structure of the Spanish Empire, the place can be reached by riding on a train (Cercanias Renfe) taking the C-3 line or by one- hour bus transportation from Moncloa.
With a desire to build a structure representative of the grandeur of the period, the Habsburg king Phillip II ordered the construction of El Escorial from 1563 to 1584. It was aimed at signifying the Counter- reformation effort and faith in the Catholic religion.
The architects who initiated the arduous task of designing the building are Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera. The former made the design of the structure while the latter was the one who reformed the building making it smaller and using cheaper materials. The result is austere Renaissance style which will also be the pattern of latter establishments.
The dominant themes for El Escorial, as with the other structures in the city, are the slated roofs and towers with pinnacle on every corner. Noteworthy also is the grill- shaped map of the area, which reminds of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence.
El Escorial encompasses such magnificent structures as the St. Peter- like Basilica of El Escorial, the courtyard of the kings and that of Renaissance- inspired for Evangelists, the Royal Palace which served as King Phillip’s austere residence when he had a gout, the Hall of Battle which contains frescos depicting the triumphant Spanish Army, and the most peaceful part- the Pantheon of the Kings where remains of the monarchs are laid with King Alfonso XIII being the last and Isabela II being the only queen.