Wednesday, June 23, 2010

San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid

The weather’s been fantastic lately and I found a great place for enjoying lunch alfresco, located approximately 50km Northwest of Madrid. The place is called San Lorenzo de El Escorial. But of course though, lunch wasn’t exactly the highlight here.

At the foothills of the mountains of Guadarrama, a massive granite complex stands.
Here's yet another of Spain’s treasures in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.

Constructed in the 16th century by the order of King Philip II, the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial was built for two main reasons. It was to be the royal burial place for his beloved father, Charles V, and it was also built in honour of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence), a martyr whose church was destroyed during the battle of San Quentin in France.

The main parts that make up this sturdy building are the Palace, the Royal Pantheon & Mausoleum, a church, a monastery, an art museum, as well as a library which boasts of an impressive collection of literature.

Based on a legend, the layout of the simple rectangular building was made to resemble a gridiron, in rememberance of how San Lorenzo was supposedly 'roasted' alive on one. Others believed that it was merely based on the floorplan of Solomon's Temple. Whatever the case, King Philip II had specifically wanted the architecture to be austere and unadorned.

To give an idea of how massive this building is, it occupies a surface area of more than 33,000 square meters, it has 16 patios, 88 fountains, 15 cloisters, 9 towers, 1,200 doors and 2,673 windows.

Above: The view from Calle Capilla.

Across from the Monastery is a maze of small roads and several plazas filled with lots of restaurants.

Above: Plaza de la Constitución.

Above: House of the Columns.

Driving out of the town center after lunch, we decided to head up to the mountains to catch a better view of the Monastery in its entirety.

Above: View of the town from higher up the mountains.

Above: The building looking much like a scale model from afar.

Above: Grazing animals scattered all over the mountains.

Above: Sorry for interrupting...I'd be gone long before your horns start to grow.
Nice earrings by the way ; )

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