Day trip to the Royal Monastery of El Escorial and Valley of the Fallen from Madrid
On this day trip to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid, discover two impressive places intimately linked to the history of Spain.
Visit to the Monastery of El Escorial
The excursion begins with the visit to the Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, a monument of the most splendid Spanish artistic heritage. Awaiting us there is an historic complex built between 1563 and 1584, where we will visit its most impressive rooms: the Palace of the Habsburgs, the Royal Pantheon, the Chapter Room, the Basilica and the rooms of Felipe II.
El Escorial is impressive, since it is the great monument that embodies the period of maximum Spanish power during the 16th century. Here the Spanish monarchs and their direct descendants, from Carlos I (1500-1558) onward, are buried, and you will be able to see their tombs in the Pantheon of the Infants and the Pantheon of the Kings.
When visiting El Escorial, you will understand why it was considered the eighth wonder of the world in its day. You will see that in the centre of this enormous complex is the Basilica, situated in front of the Palace of Kings.
Everything in San Lorenzo del Escorial is related to the monarchy, including its very origins as building commissioned by Felipe II (1527-1598), a king whose political expertise and religious fervour united his passion for art, the height of which was reached in this building charged to Juan Herrera.
The result is lavish, something that you will rapidly experience yourself during the visit, especially in the Chapter Room where paintings by Titian or Velazquez hang, and where there are many more by Zurbaran, el Bosco or Tintoretto. In other words, El Escorial in itself is and was an attractive museum, although some of those works are currently displayed in the Prado Museum.
However, the ostentation of this part of the Monastery contrasts with the austerity of the lodgings of Felipe II, which you will also see during your visit.
In short, this visit to the monastery and palace of El Escorial takes you directly to Spanish history, where glamor, art and religion reached their maximum expression. Therefore, it is not strange that San Lorenzo is one of the places that attract the most tourism in the country.
Something similar happens with the next destination that our excursion will bring you to: the Valley of the Fallen.
Visit to Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen)
The reasons are quite different, both for the art that it displays and for the historical period and conditions under which it was built. The complex of the Valley of the Fallen is a much more modern monument, since this lavish work was built between 1940 and 1959 in order to honour the memory of those who had fallen during the Spanish Civil War. Any Spaniard knows that this monument has a clear political tint, linked to the victors of the war and with Francisco Franco, whose remains were buried in the Basilica itself until 2019.
Regardless of political ideology, it is interesting to visit the Valle de los Caidos in order to get to know one of the country’s historic episodes and to appreciate the art that was developed during those years in Spain.
The excursion includes entrance to both the Basilica and to the Valley of the Fallen, whose most emblematic image is the enormous cross of rock, about 150 metres high, visible from different locations in the Madrileña Mountains.
Precisely, that mountain range so close to the capital is the natural space that you will cross following the itinerary of this excursion. It is a place where nature reigns in contrast with the urban environment of Madrid. Therefore the very road taken on this excursion to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen is yet another reason for doing this visit.
Note: Bus not suitable for wheelchairs