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2020-08-21 12:14:21

El Escorial Monastery - the most visited monastery in Spain

El Escorial Monastery - the most visited monastery in Spain

Spain is a land of controversial attractions. The leading position in this list is occupied by the El Escorial Monastery - a late medieval architectural monument, which at various times was a Catholic monastery, a palace, and a royal residence. Why contradictory? Someone calls El Escorial the eighth wonder of the world, and someone considers it an architectural nightmare, but no one remains indifferent. In 1984, the site was recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site, which means that everyone who chooses Spain as a place of travel should see El Escorial.

El Escorial: historical background

Many legends envelop the history of the construction of the El Escorial Monastery. One of the most widespread was invented by the monks themselves: supposedly at the entrance to the monastery were the "gates of hell", and to close them, it was necessary to open and consecrate the monastery. And during construction, a dog named Cerberus came at night to protect the portal from onlookers. After the completion of the construction, King Philip moved the library of books on magic and occultism to El Escorial, saving them from the Inquisition.

In fact, the monastery complex was built in honor of the victory of the Spanish army over the French invaders. The victorious battle took place on August 10, 1557, on the day of the memory of Saint Lorenzo, hence the full name of the monastery - San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

The project was entrusted to the architect Juan Bautisto de Toledo. The first stone was laid on April 23, 1563. A few years later, Toledo died, and Juan de Herrera became the second architect, thanks to whom the building acquired a special style.

King Philip paid special attention to the interior decoration. To create unique interiors, the best craftsmen from all over the island were called:

  • Woodcarving was done in Avila
  • The marble was delivered from Aracena
  • The sculptures were made by Milanese craftsmen
  • Goldsmiths from Zaragoza, Toledo and Flanders worked on silver and bronze items
  • The painting was entrusted to Tybaldini, Cambiaso, Castello.

Architectural features

The structure was erected from light sandstone, which looks especially advantageous against the backdrop of greenery. The style, which the architects meticulously worked on under the control of the king himself, has special features:

  • Clarity of lines
  • Simplicity, no frills
  • High ceilings
  • Easy cascade system.

Interesting Facts

  • El Escorial has become a repository of 2 museums: the first reflects the history of the construction and existence of the object itself, the second keeps 1600 paintings by the great masters - Bosch, Veronese, Tintoretto, Van Dyck and others.
  • Another goal of the construction is to create a royal family tomb. The Pantheon is located in the crypt of the temple. All Spanish kings and queens are buried here, starting with the father of Philip II - King Charles V.
  • Before the bodies of the dead are immersed in the pantheon, for some time they are placed in basement rooms, to which only the monks of the monastery have access.
  • There are no more free burial places in the pantheon, causing controversy over where the current king and queen will be buried.
  • Until now, some important royal events are held in the halls of the palace.
  • The first architect of the complex is a student of Michelangelo.

The object belongs to monasteries.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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