Around 50 kilometres northwest of Madrid, the austere yet opulent residence of El Escorial extends up the southern slope of the Sierra De Guadarrama. It was built during the rule of King Phillip II after his father Charles I, ordered him to build a magnificent church in which he would eventually be buried. The Escorial was to be a pantheon for the Spanish aristocracy and also serve as the country’s new centre of authority.
In rooms such as the Pudridero, the significance of El Escorial as a burial place is evident. King Phillip II required that the exterior of the building be plain and simple in contrast to the interior, with its unusual works of art and priceless treasures.
The impressive art museum contains an exclusive collection by important artist such as Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Van Dyck, Hieronymus Bosch, Velázquez and El Greco.
In the royal pantheon, the Panteones Reales, lie the coffins of eleven Spanish monarchs. The splendid marble coffins, with their golden inscriptions, add both dignity and elegance to this burial place.
Philip II was not only a larger-than-life tyrant, he was also an educated man who supported science and the arts. El Escorial was his most significant bequest to Spain.
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.