If you’re interested in visiting, here is more about my day trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial from Madrid.
To get to San Lorenzo de El Escorial JC and I took the Cercanias, Madrid’s rural trains. The El Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that serves as a monastery, a royal place, a museum and a school. King Philip II, the most pious king on all of Spain, built the El Escorial for his father as a place to rest his tomb. Now, it is where all of Spain’s royal families are laid to rest. The El Escorial is jaw-droppingly massive and a visit is definitely a must.
JC and I bought an audio tour and spent the whole day roaming around in the El Escorial. They say you only need about two hours for the entire tour. They were wrong. We were there for 4 hours and that still wasn’t enough. JC and I had to rush a little toward the end to make sure we saw everything we wanted to see before the El Escorial closed at 6PM. Photos were forbidden and out of respect to the dead, I didn’t take any. If you want to see what the El Escorial looks like without having to visit San Lorenzo, watch the movie Elizabeth starring. The movie was shot inside the El Escorial.
The photos below were all grabbed from Google Images.
The Basilica is the central part of the El Escorial consisting of two churches. King Philip II was so pious that he built a secret pathway that connected his bedroom to the Basilica.
The library holds over 40,000 of King Phillip’s personal collection of books. They were stacked neatly and locked safely behind meticulously carved wooden shelves. The floor was made of marble and the frescoes on the ceiling were beautifully painted. I almost broke my neck staring at it.
This tomb holds all of the royal infants who didn’t make it past puberty. There were many more who died post-puberty but I’d have to say that the tomb chamber for the royal families were most impressive in every way possible. The royal families, at the time of the construction of the tomb, had an enormous amount at their disposal. Everything was gilded in gold. The intricate marble stones were meticulously carved. Every room in the tomb was spacious and decorated with crowns and marble statues. It looked like a fairytale palace with marble guards that came to life.
Adjacent to the tomb chamber of the royal children is the chamber where the Kings of Spain and their wives were laid to rest. This picture does it no justice but it’s the best one I’ve got. Everything in the El Escorial is so airy and grand and majestic. The voluminous amount of things to see completely blew me away. The El Escorial is one of those places where I went with no expectations of and left with an incredible rich impression.
It’s the perfect place to visit on a cold and rainy day. This enormous castle sitting in the small and quaint town of San Lorenzo makes it seem like it’s straight from a fairytale. The streets are narrow but I love how you can see the landscape hidden between earthly pastel buildings. The day was gloomy but the town was still so charming. I’d definitely come back to visit the El Escorial again. I knew that it was going to be a big palace, but I had no idea how grand it would be. It definitely took me by surprise.
Tired and hungry, JC and I took the last train back to Madrid. This night, like every other night, we’re ready to feast. All that walking burned so much calories. We were always hungry. Always. We took the metro to Alfonso Martinez and accidentally discovered FresCo – an all you can eat buffet! Jackpot! Most of the time when I travel, eating healthy is the last thing on my mind. But since we discovered FresCo, we ate there at least once a day – usually for dinner. I got my daily doses of meat, fruits, veggies, dairy and dessert. Then I happily let comatose override my body and I’d drag my behind back to the hotel.