13 Facts About El Escorial


El Escorial was both a Spanish royal palace and a monastery, although Philip II is the only monarch who ever lived in the main building.

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El Escorial is situated at the foot of Mount Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama.

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Since then, El Escorial has been the burial site for most of the Spanish kings of the last five centuries, Bourbons as well as Habsburgs.

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Strikingly similar to El Escorial is the layout of the Alcazar of Seville and the design of the Alhambra at Granada, where, as at El Escorial, two courtyards in succession separate the main portal of the complex from a fully enclosed place of worship.

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Statues of David and Solomon on either side of the entrance to the basilica of El Escorial lend further weight to the theory that this is the true origin of the design.

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Temple-of-Solomon design, if indeed it was the basis for El Escorial, was extensively modified to accommodate the additional functions Philip II intended the building to serve.

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Beside being a monastery, El Escorial is a pantheon, a basilica, a convent, a school, a library, and a royal palace.

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Main entrance of the El Escorial is the west facade, which has three doors: the middle one leads to the Courtyard of the Kings and the side ones lead to a school and to a monastery.

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Basilica of San Lorenzo el Real, the central building in the El Escorial complex, was originally designed, like most of the late Gothic cathedrals of Western Europe, to take the form of a Latin cross.

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However, the Roman dome is supported by ranks of tapered Corinthian columns, with their extravagant capitals of acanthus leaves and their elaborately fluted shafts, while the dome at El Escorial, soaring nearly 100 metres into the air, is supported by four heavy granite piers connected by simple Romanesque arches and decorated by simple Doric pilasters, plain, solid, and largely unprepossessing.

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All of the wood used in El Escorial comes from the ancient forests of Sagua La Grande, on the so-called Golden Coast of Cuba.

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El Escorial bought 315 original volumes, in Greek and Arabic, from Juan Paez de Castro's personal library.

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El Escorial collected and preserved over four hundred books prohibited by the Inquisition, which he agreed should not be available for those likely to "misunderstand" them but only to experts.

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