El Escorial

El Escorial
Palace-monastery northwest of Madrid, built in 1563–67 for Philip II.

It is the burial place of Spanish sovereigns and one of the largest religious establishments in the world. It was conceived by Juan Bautista de Toledo (1530–1597) and completed by Juan de Herrera (с 1530–1597), who is considered responsible for its architectural style. Its plan is a giant rectangle, with a domed church at the center flanked by the palace, monastery, college, library, cloisters, and courts. The massive granite walls, relieved only by a series of unadorned windows and Doric pilasters, with no concession to decorative richness, produced an austerity beyond anything the Italian Renaissance ever envisaged.

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 village, western Madrid provincia (province) and comunidad autónoma (autonomous community), central Spain, in the Guadarrama mountains, 26 miles (42 km) northwest of Madrid. It is the site of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a monastery originally Hieronymite but occupied since 1885 by Augustinians.

       Philip II wanted a monastery at El Escorial as a place where all Spanish sovereigns beginning with the emperor Charles V could be buried; all of them have been interred there, with the exception of Philip V, Ferdinand VI, and Alfonso XIII. One of the largest religious establishments in the world (about 675 by 528 feet [206 by 161 metres]), El Escorial was begun in 1563 by Juan Bautista de Toledo, a Renaissance Spanish architect who had worked earlier in Italy, and was completed after his death in 1567 by Juan de Herrera.

 Toledo is responsible for the general plan of El Escorial monastery, consisting of a great rectangle of three parts, the centre being occupied by the church. On the south are five cloisters in which are included the royal palace and offices; on the north are the living quarters of the monks. Herrera (Herrera, Juan de) made extensive revisions in the designs, prepared new plans for the church (1572), and brought the whole building to completion in 1584. The massive walls of the interior, relieved only by Doric pilasters with no concession to decorative richness, produced a monument that was austere beyond anything the Italian Renaissance ever envisaged. On the exterior the gigantic scale of the monastery and the severe gray granite walls are forbidding. There Herrera established his fame and the Herreran style, which was to prevail in Spain for half a century.

      El Escorial library, founded by Philip II, houses a rare collection of more than 4,700 manuscripts, many of them illuminated, and 40,000 printed books. Pop. (2005) 13,768.

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Universalium. 2010.

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