El Escorial

This weekend, the program took us to visit El Escorial, a historical, country residence of the Spanish royal family:

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The Courtyard of the Evangelists

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A view of one of the gardens from a royal bedroom.

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The front facade of the basilica in the Courtyard of the Kings

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The exterior plaza around El Escorial and the surrounding mountains.

El Escorial is about 45 kilometers outside of Madrid, surrounded by the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains. The complex is vast, and contains a basilica, a library, pantheons, ornate gardens, museums, halls, courtyards, and a lot of art. We couldn’t go inside because there were 3(!) weddings the day we visited, but we were able to see almost everything else. The library was especially interesting, and full of historically important manuscripts ranging from Arabic to Hebrew to Latin with an ornate ceiling fresco depicting the seven liberal arts. Also notable were the pantheons, where most members of the Spanish royal families are buried (with the parents of monarchs in a separate room from all other family members). We weren’t allowed to take pictures while inside the buildings, but they were spectacular.

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