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Monday, September 24, 2012 (read 687 times)
Madrid: El Escorialby Seun
The Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial is Spain’s historical meeting place of royal authority and its long-standing clerical influence.The residence of the royal family and the church at which they celebrate mass, and, a Monastery of Augustinian monks were both at one time hosted at this colossal palace. The palace, now a UNESCO World Heritage site and belonging to the Spanish Patrimonio Nacional, is set on mount Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama on the northern border of the comunidad de Madrid.
In 1561, when Felipe II moved the court from Toledo to Madrid, this Spanish king also happened to be looking for a burial place for his father, Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V, who had asked not to be buried with his ancestors but rather in a new build. Finding the site where today lies El Escorial some 45km to the north-east of Madrid, Felipe II saw to the founding of a monastery for Augustinian monks and buried his father there. This was the first of the Escorial Palace that we now know. Then seeing pleasance of the surroundings at the monastery and its facility to hunting, he then commissioned architect Juan Bautista (who had previously been working at Saint Peter’s, Rome) to build a hunting lodge joint to the monastery. Thus began the expansion of the mansion.
The grand piece of Renaissance architecture (although unmistakably already showing development into the Baroque style) that we see in El Escorial is a piece that we attribute to the brilliance of Juan Bautista even though, in 1567, he died,14 years before the building was completed. A national symbol of Spanish pride, ownership of El Escorial was handed over to the Patrimonio Nacional in 1984 at the 400th anniversary of its completion and today, the palace attracts hoards of both Spanish and foreign visitors.
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