A few days ago I remembered the beauty of the El Escorial Palace, near Madrid, about which I have not been able to write so far and where I spent a whole day. So far, I’ve written about How to visit Madrid for free and How to visit the Prado Museum in two hours.
How to get to El Escorial
If you stay in Madrid, it’s easy to get to your destination by bus 661 (see timetable) or 664 (see timetable) from Intercambiador Moncloa, where we arrived by metro from our accommodation. Ticket costs 4.20 Euros and travel takes about 45 minutes. Be careful to get off at San Lorenzo del Escorial (palace) NOT at El Escorial. From the bus station, in 12 minutes walking through the medieval town, you reach the magnificence of the palace built by Filip II in the 16th century. Before or after visiting the citadel, it is worth a tour of the city, it is very picturesque; in the central square you can drink something good or eat at the restaurants in the area.
In 1561, along with the capital’s move to Madrid, Philip II began buying land in this area to raise the San Lorenzo del Escorial Monastery, two years later. The monastery was originally built by Philip II’s desire to bring here the remains of his father, Carlos V and the royal family. The purpose of the construction has changed over time, being royal residence, cultural center, hospital.
Architect Juan Bautista de Toledo and his student, Juan Herera – built on the side of Mount Abantos, a monastery with 16 interior courtyards, 88 fountains, 13 small chapels, 86 stairs, 9 towers, 1200 doors and 2673 windows. Built in Renaissance style, El Escorial is included in the UNESCO list of monuments.
El Escorial ticket cost: 10 Euro / person.
The architectural complex includes:
- church (1582)
- the monastery
- the royal palace and the college (1584)
- the library (1592)
- Casita del Principe
- Casita del Infante
Casita del Principe
Located about 1.5 km from the palace (walking distance is about 20 minutes), the hunting lodge houses one of the most beautiful interiors. It impressed me more than the palace itself. As I waited for the hour to visit (the visits are hourly and are guided tours), I walked through the garden, admired the park and read about Spanish history.
Entrance costs 5 Euro / person including guidance. One of the rooms left me speechless when I saw the ceiling with golden stars, but I could not take pictures.
Program for this architectural complex: Oct-Mar, Tu-Su, 10-18. Apr-Sept, Tu-S, 10-20.