Since the April 24 entry, World Heritage Sites, we’ve visited two more entries on the UNESCO WHS List. In the entry below, I described our visit to the Cirque du Gavarnie in the Pyrenees Mts. Now, it’s time to talk about the 36th place we’ve visited on the list: The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de el Escorial.
J and I went to visit Madrid last week with the pretext being that we would see a cousin of J’s who is studying (?) for six weeks there this summer. We did see E on our first night there, at the magnificent Retiro Park, and then we were were supposed to take a tour of Madrid the following morning. Alas, we got lost getting to the tour’s meeting point, so J said, “Why don’t we go visit the monastery?” So we did.
We took an hour-long ride on a municipal bus to the small city of Escorial, perched on a hillside about 50 klicks NW of Madrid. I note that there was a tour company offering bus rides and a guided tour of the monastery for 50 euros a pop. Our bus trip cost us 6.70 euros each, roundtrip, and our entry ticket cost 8 euros each, and we bought audio guides for 3 euros each. All told, the trip and entry cost us 35.40 euros, less than the cost of one ticket from the tour company.
Unfortunately, visitors aren’t allowed to take photos whilst inside most of the monastery. (This same policy is in effect for the Royal Palace in Madrid as well.) However, there were a couple of spots where photos were not expressly forbidden. This is a snapshot of part of a tapestry entitled, “The Temptation of St. Anthony.”
There are some truly bizarre figures – none seemingly the least bit tempting – in this work.
We wandered around lots of staircases and hallways and rooms, gazing at any number of paintings by Italian and Flemish artists. It’s not my cup of tea, but to each their own. However, one beautiful bit of painting we saw and both liked immensely was a ceiling fresco:
D thought this rivals the Sistine Chapel for beauty.
But if you really want to grab a teenage guy’s attention, head for the crypt. And so we did:
All of the kings since Carlos I are buried here along with their wives.
Afterward, we wandered through the gardens and, of course, snapped a bunch of photos. The album is here.
But when we finished, I couldn’t quite see why this place merited UNESCO status. But I’ll mark it as #36 on our list of UNESCO sites we’ve visited.