El Escorial palace

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San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 49 Km from Madrid by road, is one of the former royal residences which was built in there by King Felipe II

El Escorial is located northwest of Madrid and comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: El Real Monasterio de El Escorial itself and La Granjilla de La Fresneda, a royal hunting lodge.
The 16th century monastery was built in honor of Saint Lawerence. Since this time it has gone on to become the resting place of the Spanish nobility and housing a unique collection of manuscripts and various famous art pieces. Philip II of Spain engaged the Spanish architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo, to be his collaborator in the design of El Escorial. Some time later Juan de Herrera designed the Casas de Oficios facing the North façade of the monastery, while his successor Francisco de Moro produced the plans for the Casa de la Compaña. El Escorial was built with the idea to maintain the symmetry and austerity, while showing forth might and power of the crown of Spain under divine guidance. At the entrance of the Patio of the Kings, the antechamber of eternity, sculptures of the Kings of Judea who brought Israel back to the service of God preside in a majestic reminder.
The Basilica contains two great cenotaphs, one on either side of the high altar: to the right, that of the founder, King Philip II; and to the left that of the Emperor Charles V. They are accompanied by members of their families. The sculptor Pompeyo Leoni was responsible for the gilt bronze statues in the two royal groups.
Both the Monastery and the areas of the complex used as a Palace were decorated by Italian painters summoned by Philip II to El Escorial. They include Zuccaro, Tibaldi and Cambiaso, who painted the frescoes in some of the most prominent spaces, such as the Library, Sacristy, Chapter Houses, Lower Cloister, Main Staircase and Gallery of the Battles.
The Pantheon of the Kings is situated in a circular chapel directly beneath the chancel of the Basilica. It contains the remains of monarchs and of queens who were mothers of monarchs, from the Emperor Charles V to modern times.
Situated nearby, between two spurs in the valley of Cuelgamuros, in the Sierra de Guadarramasits, Valle de los Caidos is the worlds largest free standing cross Constructed in 1940th by over 20,000 prison laborers from the defeated communists the cross and its underground tomb were ordered by Franco as a memory of the sacrifices made by the Fascists in the Spanish civil war.

Detailed interactive map El Escorial

map: El Escorial

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