Madrid’s Ghost Town: El Escorial

Posted in: Madrid


Approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Madrid, el Escorial still functions as a monastery, school, museum and royal palace. The sprawling historic site first broke ground in 1563, led by the architects Juan Bautista de Toledo and later Juan de Herrera, under the reign of King Phillip II. The architectural project set King Philip’s claim, that Madrid was the seat of the Spanish monarchy, in sculptures, ornate gold, and carved stone.

At the time of Kari’s visit in the fall 2008, the basilica was closed for renovations. However, lucky for dear Cheapos back home, she overturned the ruling (!) and snapped a few photos anyway. Here are some of the highlights of her exploration:

Check out that view.
The view from here, El Escorial, near Madrid, Spain

The statue's eye-view
A gorgeous upward view of the old monastery and palace.

Only the Iron Chef could love these.
This wall showcases the original tools used to build the original palace.

Green thumb, anyone?
Fancy gardens in el Escorial show the natives’ green thumbs at work.

Nice suit.
The ornate sarcophagus of Don Juan of Austria, inside the Royal Pantheon. In 1571, the 24-year-old illegitimate son of Charles V led a Christian fleet to victory over the Turks in the naval battle of Lepanto.

Count the sheep.
Sheep grazing in the outer fields of el Escorial.

Hey, do you see the ghost?
The kids seem to be fascinated by the idea of a “ghost town” here.

About the author

Kari Hoerchler

En junio 2000, Kari moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and never looked back...until she ran out of pesos. After another round of bank riots, the travel lady bug moved to more stable financial ground: Wall Street. (Hey, no laughing!) Currently the Listings Manager for Over There Interactive for cold, hard cash, she is also a co-author of The Maneater Murder Mystery Series and Venue Goddess for Lit Crawl NYC.

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