Remarkable aspect #4
The king’s devoutness was in many ways manifested by the spatial arrangement inside El Escorial. To that end, the royal quarters were designed in such a manner that allowed Philip II to enter the church directly from his room. Furthermore, the positioning of the high altar was done in such a way so that he could even view it from his very bed. Anyhow, holiness came with a price – with much of the altar’s gold being hauled from the New World.
Unfortunately, Philip II’s successors didn’t share his penchant for piety. The design reflected this attitude, as the latter built royal apartments became more ostentatious and spacious. They were mostly arranged on the north side of the church, thus safely relegating its view on their privately decadent lives.
Remarkable aspect #5
In contrast to the restrained outer facades of El Escorial, the king did manage to infuse the expansive indoors with fantastical works of art. These entail artistic achievements of a host of renowned names including El Greco, Tintoretto, Titian and Velasquez.
In addition to paintings, El Escorial also boasts of a library, rare artifacts and rich tapestries. The central courtyard complements this veritable vault of artworks with its own array of statues that has led to it being called as the ‘Patio of the Evangelists’.
Remarkable aspect #6
El Escorial also serves as a magnificent mausoleum for Philip II’s father Holy Roman emperor Charles V, in addition to being a Hieronymite abbey. But the expansive burial space of the Spanish rulers was not completed until long after Philip II’s death.
This underground principal crypt known as the Pantheon of the Kings, is an octagonal chamber with facades of pietra dura – which is an inlay technique incorporating polished color stones to depict images. In the pantheon’s case, the inlay additionally comprises of numerous gilded bronze embellishments.