Turismo Madrid


Rutas Patrimonio de la Humanidad en la Comunidad de Madrid

Ruta 3 > Itinerario 8

Essential Royal Site of El Escorial Itinerary

6,5 KM

An 8-hour route to get to know the most important elements of the Royal Site of El Escorial, formed by the towns of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and El Escorial. The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is one of the most extraordinary architectural ensembles in the world, having been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The itinerary highlights not only the fascinating Monastery-Palace, a reference of the Spanish Renaissance, and its first annexed constructions, but also the buildings and recreational areas for the Bourbon court developed since the 18th century.

The tour begins at the train station of El Escorial, which can be easily reached from Madrid using the frequent Cercanías commuter train service or the Philip II's tourist train.

Ruta Paso a Paso

El Escorial railroad station

It was opened in 1861 and operated by the Compañía de los Caminos de Hierro del Norte de España (Northern Spain Railroads Company) until 1941. It is currently part of the Cercanías Renfe commuter trains network that connects Madrid with its outskirts. It is located on line C3a, in zone C1.

Cercanías commuter train schedules

Philip II's tourist train

1. Royal House of Prince

The Casita del Príncipe or Royal House of Prince is an intimate, recreational palace built in 1773 by Juan de Villanueva in neoclassical style for the enjoyment of Prince Charles, the future Charles IV. It is located in a beautiful park separated from the Dehesa de la Herrería, surrounded by gardens of great beauty.

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2. House of the Families of the Infantes

Built in 1802 for the lodging of the families of the Infantes, sons of Charles IV, during their stay at the Royal Site.

3. Victoria Palace Hotel

It was built in 1901 on the site of the former House of Kitchens and Stables of the Queen Mother.

4. King's Coach Houses

Originally they were two different buildings built in 1771, by Juan Esteban, to house members of the Court during royal stays. In the 19th century they became Royal Stables, and in the 20th century, no longer in use, they were restored to house a permanent exhibition.

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5. Royal Coliseum Carlos III

It was built in 1771 on the initiative of King Carlos III and is the work of Jaime Marquet, French architect established in Spain since the reign of Ferdinand VI, author of theaters in other royal sites, such as those of Aranjuez and El Pardo.

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6. Hose of the Doctors

Its construction began with Juan de Herrera in 1583. The necessity of its construction derives from the royal disposition that ordered that the professors of the College of Art and Theology could not be Hieronymites but lay people, therefore they could not live in the Monastery.

7. House of the Stores

It is a group of stores built by Juan de Villanueva in 1789 by order of King Carlos III.

8. First House of Trades

Designed by Juan de Herrera and finished by his disciple, Francisco de Mora, in 1589. It is configured in the form of a comb with the longitudinal facade facing the Monastery and housed the offices of the bureaucratic apparatus of the Palace.

9. Second House of Trades

Designed by Juan de Herrera and finished by his disciple, Francisco de Mora, in 1596. It is configured in the form of a comb with the longitudinal facade facing the Monastery and housed the offices of the bureaucratic apparatus of the Palace.

10. Third House of Trades

Built by Juan de Villanueva in 1797 for the Count of Floridablanca, who at that time was the First Secretary of the Ministry of State.

11. Casa de Infantes

It was built enclosing the Lonja, in front of the main facade of the Monastery, for the lodging of the families of the princes during their stay in the Royal Site. It is the work of Juan de Villanueva, completed in 1786. It is a 186 m long building, rectangular in plan and organized around five courtyards.

12 Western façade of the Royal Monastery

It is 205 meters long and its central section houses the library, which Juan de Herrera designed to close the courtyard leading to the Basilica and unify the facade. It shows some of the predominant characteristic elements of the new Herrerian style, framed in the Spanish Renaissance, such as the Tuscan order, the giant order, the ornamental austerity, the use of pyramids and spheres, and the Flemish-influenced slate roofs.

13. Courtyard of the Kings and Royal Basilica of San Lorenzo

The Courtyard forms a large rectangular area, delimited by the Monastery, the College, the library and the solemn entrance to the Basilica, presided over by the statues of the six kings of Judah, by Juan Bautista Monegro. The Basilica follows the model of Donato d'Angelo Bramante for St. Peter's Basilica and was designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo, although it was finished by Juan de Herrera. The central nave, with barrel vaults, was painted in the 17th century by Luca Giordano with scenes from the Old Testament and the history of the Church. The dome, 19 meters in diameter, is topped by a lantern that reaches a height of 92 meters. Highlights: the choir, covered by fresco paintings by Luca Cambiaso; and the high altar, 30 m high, dating from 1579 and designed by Juan de Herrera and made in marble by Jacome da Trezzo. The bronze sculptures were commissioned to the sculptors Leoni.

14. Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

King Philip II conceived the idea of building a great monastery that would also be a palace and royal pantheon. The reasons for the foundation were essentially the fulfillment of two promises: to execute the will of his father, Emperor Charles, in which he was entrusted with the task of finding a burial place for him and the Empress Isabella, and secondly, to consummate the offering made after the victory in the Battle of Saint-Quentin on August 10, 1557 against France. It was built between 1563 and 1584. Inside we find masterpieces of sculpture and painting.

Highlights: the library, the pantheon, the cloister, the courtyard of the Evangelists, the basilica, the chapter rooms, the sacristy, the Hall of Battles and the palaces of the Habsburgs and the Bourbons.

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15. Casa de la Compaña

Built by Francisco de Mora in 1597, it was a storage and service building that supplied the Monastery and the Palace. In 1892 it was ceded to the Order of St. Augustine, to institute the Royal College of Higher Studies of El Escorial, known as the Maria Cristina University, for being promoted by the widowed queen of Alfonso XII.

16. Convalescent Colonnade

It is a small building attached to the southwest corner of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo, built by Juan Bautista de Toledo in 1586, as a union between the tower of the apothecary and the infirmary, facing the garden of the Friars. The colonnade was designed by Juan de Herrera following the model of Juan Bautista de Toledo.

17. Friars' Gardens and King's Gardens

The Friars' Garden is located at the foot of the Monastery, along the south façade, surrounding the monks' quarters. It was designed by Juan de Herrera in the second half of the 16th century and sits on an artificial terrace built to overcome the unevenness of the terrain. It has a marked geometric design, formed by a succession of spaces arranged longitudinally, each of which contains flowerbeds with a fountain in the center.

The King's Gardens, intended for private use, extend under the Royal Apartments. They have terraces on the lower level, from which one can contemplate the surroundings of the Monastery. To safeguard privacy, they are separated from the Friars' Garden by discreet stone enclosures, although the dividing walls have doors that allow a complete tour of the complex.

 The gardens are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Free access.

18. The Pond

It was built in 1589 by Francisco de Mora in the place where a natural spring gushed. It has a staircase that goes down to the water level and another one that reaches the orchard. At present it still has the same purpose for which it was created, to deposit and regulate the amount of water for the irrigation of the adjacent orchard.

19. Royal House of Infant

The Casita del Infante or Royal House of Infant is a recreational palace of the Spanish royal family, built by Juan de Villanueva, in neoclassical style, for the Infante Don Gabriel de Borbón, son of King Carlos III. It was conceived as a place of rest and also of leisure, to celebrate chamber music concerts. It is located on the road to Robledo within the Herrería estate. It consists of a small Palladian-inspired building located in the center of a beautiful Italian-style garden, with hedges drawn according to a precise geometric pattern and populated by a grove of large conifers.

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