December 5 2022

El Escorial: a place that breathes history with a thousand secrets to discover

This ‘whim’ of Felipe II was the royal summer residence of the Spanish monarchy. It is s perfect destination that you will never get tired of visiting. We give you the keys to get the most out of it: art, history, nature, gastronomy…

San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a jewel that is part of the World Heritage Site of the Community of Madrid. Like Aranjuez or Alcalá de Henares, it is a place full of history and an essential destination with a thousand secrets to discover. Both the Monastery and the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial were declared part of the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1984.

The Monastery and Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial symbolizes the ideological and artistic expression that influenced the evolution of architecture, monumental arts and landscape design during the Spanish Golden Age. Its current layout -dating from the end of the 18th century– makes it one of the most representative examples of the Real Sitio (residential court city) developed by the monarchy as a reflection of its power.

The Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is an architectural wonder. This is pointed out in the declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main façade, oriented to the west, with 207 meters in length, has two side doors that correspond to the entrance of the Alfonso XII School and to the Augustinian convent. Above it, there is a body of Ionic columns, among which the family coat of arms of Felipe II and a large statue of San Lorenzo, carved in granite by Juan Bautista Monegro, stand out.

The artistic works are one of the most remarkable aspects of this site. Its paintings, sculptures, cantorales, parchments, liturgical ornaments and other sumptuary, sacred and courtesan objects also make it a museum. Its complex iconography and iconology has received the most varied interpretations by historians, admirers and critics.

Casita del Príncipe. El Escorial. Garden.

There is much more to admire. Like the beautiful gardens of the Monastery of San Lorenzo, with free access (not so common in Europe), a gift to all visitors.

These gardens (Jardín Privado del Rey, de los Frailes and Jardín de los Convalecientes) were home to numerous varieties of plants brought from the New World, many of them medicinal.

In its interior, the Cloister of the Monastery or Patio de los Evangelistas, has a collection of different floral varieties that, thanks to the optimal orientation of this space, can be enjoyed, even in the cold winter. Both the gardening and the botany are proof of the careful and specialized work done by the gardeners of that time, and that work continues today, with the same effort and care, by the staff of the Monastery.

Enter the nooks and crannies of the monastery, enjoy all its works of art and get lost in the gardens, to enjoy the purest air of the Community of Madrid. El Escorial is one of the must-visit places in the region.

But there is much more: if you are a love nature, the Luis Ceballos Arboretum, Environmental Education Center offers guided trails and itineraries. There are many routes in the area that make it one of the preferred destinations for lovers of active and sustainable tourism.

If you want to do gastronomic tourism, you can taste traditional mountain cuisine, like roast meat with D.O. Guadarrama, without forgetting the rich offer of international and creative cuisine. Here you have a guide of restaurants and places of tapeo

For more information about El Escorial :

For updated information about the World Heritage cities in the Community of Madrid you can visit the Tourism website of the Community of Madrid