Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo, Spain

San Lorenzo is located 50 Km. north west from Madrid, reachable by road on Nacional VI highway or road M505 from Las Rozas (Madrid)

The main attraction of San Lorenzos is the Royal Monastery. In 1557 Philip II's (King of the Spanish Empire at the time) army, won the Battle of San Quintin. It was on August 10th, day of San Lorenzo, Philip II wanted to honor the day of victory and decided to build a temple in honor of San Lorenzo. Philip II built the temple not only in honor of San Lorenzo but also as a tribute to his father and as a mausoleum-temple-pantheon-study center-meditation refuge for himself, Philip II decided it should be located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial (San Lorenzo The Dump???).

The temple truly reflected the wealth and power of the Spainish Empire in the 16th century. The temple was constructed with symmetry and balance, inside an enormous quad carved from from granite and slate, boasting:

  • 15 Cloisters
  • 16 Patios
  • 14 Entrance halls
  • 13 Oratory
  • 300 Cells
  • 86 Stairways
  • 9 Towers
  • 9 Pipe organs
  • 232 Chorus books
  • 73 Statues
  • Over 1600 scenes
  • 11 Cisterns
  • 88 Fountains
  • 2673 Windows
  • 1200 Doors

  • The main facade is comprised of a superb group of columns, a picture of San Lorenzo, and the Imperial Coat of Arms. The Patio of the Kings is found at the entrance with the facade of the Basilica to the rear. It has been given the name "Anti-chamber of eternity"; it contains statues representing the kings of Judea. The art in the temple is arranged in a way that reflects the link between religion and humanism. The library, not only featuring a dome painting by Pellegrino Tibaldi, has an extensive collection of documents including Arab and Hebrew manuscripts as well as a personal library of Philip II. The floor is made of gray marble and the walls are covered with bookshelves designed by Jaun de Herrera and carved by Guiseppe Flecha y Gamboa. Among the singular works and manuscripts in the collection works such as ballads by Alfonso X the Wise and the Virgilian Manuscript can be found.

    The Monastery; consisting of forty three altars each of which are graced with paintings, occupies the central part. The ceilings are decorated with frescos by Lucas Jordan and on each side of the main altar are statues of Charles I and Philip II, the work of Pompeyo Leoni.

    The Mausoleum of the Kings holds the remains of all the Spanish monarchs from Charles I to Alfonso XIII, also the rests of Juan de Borbón, father of Juan Carlos I are taking repose there. A marble gallery leads to the Mausoleum of the Infants.

    The building measures are: 207 meters long and 161 meters width. The main structure was made by wood beam and granitic stone, the roofs are of slate and lead pieces, and the architectural design is Doric order. The money employed to make this impressive building was six million Ducat (1930's Ptas 17,000,000)

    In 1771 Jaime Marguet, under the order of Charles III, carried out the project of the Royal Coliseum which was later reformed by Juan de Villanueva.

    Its solemn inauguration took place in 1771. For many years, this was the place where Madrid's noblemen met, usually in the spring and summertime. In 1979 the building was saved, somewhat miraculousy, from complete destruction and was restored and returned to its former condition. It has a seating capacity of 384 for concerts and 342 for theatre productions. It is a magnificent building which draws a number of enthusiasts.
    For tourists the temple is surrounded with a variety of luxorious hotels including:

  • Victoria Hotel
  • Parrilla Príncipe Hotel
  • Miranda suizo Hotel
  • Florida Hotel
  • Cristina Hostel
  • Los Arcos Hostel
  • Vasco Hostel
  • Malagón Hostel

  • There is a huge variety of resaraunts and pubs, over 80 the most popular of which are El Charolés and La Parrilla, considered to be the best restaraunts in the province of Madrid. The village also has a number of craft shops, book stores, and other shops that compliment the towns history.

    Another tourist advantage that San Lorenzo de El Escorial offers is its location at the foot of the Madrid mountain range. It is the starting point for some interesting hikes, the most common of which is El Valle de Los Caídos (The Valley of The Fallen). Which is a temple of monumental proportions, crowned by a huge cross and several sculptures by Juan de Avalos. Construction began in the 40's by order of General Francisco Franco, Head of the Spanish State during that period. The main basilica is an excavation within a mountain with a long stairway leading to the entrance. It took twenty years to accomplish this feat and the work was done by prisioners of the Spanish Civil War. The crypt of Valle de los Caídos holds the remains of many of those who fought in that war. Also there rest Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera.