San Lorenzo de
Juan Vaquero, San Lorenzo del EscorialKing Philip II established Madrid as the capital of the Kingdom of Spain in 1561. He had to create a political and administrative center from which to govern all of the kingdoms he had inherited from his parents, which extended across all continents. To commemorate his victory in the Battle of Saint Quentin, he ordered the construction of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, far from the capital.
Architecturally inspired by the mythical Solomon’s Temple, in Jerusalem, this impressive building functioned as a palace to serve the court, and included a basilica worthy of a Catholic monarch; a royal pantheon, where all the Spanish kings and queens are buried; and one of the most interesting and beautiful libraries in all of the European Renaissance. It is one of Spain’s most fascinating buildings and reveals the Spanish monarchs’ immense power during the modern period.