My trip to El Escorial, about an hour north of Madrid started from the city of Valdemoro where I was staying with my “Spanish family” (mom Susanna; dad, Jose and girls with whom I had been practicing English conversation for the last few weeks).
One day I went to the sports complex with Susanna. While she was working out, I went next door to the VIPS restaurant and was enjoying my coffee and bocadillo (sandwich) when a nice looking man approached and asked, in English, if I would consent to joining him and his friends who were mature students studying English. Of course! Who am I to pass up an opportunity to meet locals.
Then I received an invitation to join their English class as a native English speaker. And, so, the next Tuesday I met with Ada, Rosa and Jose Maria in Fernando’s class. And, for the next 3 classes as well.
One day I said I wanted to go to Segovià and that comment ended with Ada and Rosa making plans to go with me. They both asked if I was also going to visit nearby El Escorial, a place I knew nothing about.
We made plans for the following week. In the meantime Susannas’ mother, Pilar came to visit and we invited her to come as well. We all boarded the 9 o’clock train and made the hour and a half trip to the mountains and the town of El Escorial.
Our first stop in El Escorial was for coffee or chocolate and churros. We took this photo (that’s Rosa) because in the US it would be illegal to advertise something you don’t have! Yep, they didn’t have churros 😥.
We walked up the street towards the monastery, stopping to look around in the visitor center and other shops.
A most impressive sight, the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, also known as The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the historical residence of the past kings of Spain. Built for King Philip the Second, it is an austere structure encompassing the following: monastery, church, royal palace, school, seminary, and royal library surrounding 11 main courtyards and 3 service courtyards. It is the largest monastery in Spain.
Originally this was the property of the Hieronymite monks from the Order of Saint Jerome. These were hermit monks living according to the Rule of Saint Augustine in 14th century Spain. These monks devoted themselves to study and exercised great influence over the Spanish kings.
Today it is the monastery of the Order of Saint Augustine and a boarding school.
This, like the aqueduct of Segovia, was built without mortar or concrete in the 16th century.
There is a massive library where all of the books are edged in gold gilt and kept under lock and key.
The crypt is the final resting place of Spanish royalty. Elaborate black and gold caskets line the circular wall, each stacked, in order, one shelf after another. Other family members are in kept in an adjacent large underground area.
Photos are not allowed inside of the rooms so you can go to Wikipedia or the UNESCO website to see what I cannot show you.
Waiting for the next train under the spreading Jacaranda trees.El Escorial is a lovely little town with a jaw-dropping national treasure. I am glad I got to see it with my own personal guides.