Monastery of Escurial near Madrid
(Spain, March 2004) Outside Madrid in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama,
the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial is severe, rectilinear,
and unforgiving. It was built in a remarkable 21 years (1563-84), under
the reign of Felipe II, one of history's most deeply religious and forbidding
Spanish monarchs. The great granite monastery is an enduring testament
to his character.
It is famous
for its Royal Pantheon where lie the bodies of the Spanish monarchs and
its lavish and colorful library, with ceiling paintings by Michelangelo
disciple Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527-96). In the basilica can be seen a Titian's
fresco, The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence.