We love living in big cities for all you can find, for the great amount of things to do, see, live…. But at the same time this can be hard: people, cars, noises, smells. Once in a while the only solution is escape from the crowd and look for silence, to rest or just to discover new places and enjoy new perspectives.
So here comes the first of three one-day escapes for Madrid: El Escorial.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a village 50 km from Madrid, in the heart of the mountains of Sierra de Guadarrama. In the middle of the 16th century the king Felipe II decided to build a monastery and a pantheon for the royal dynasty. These few buildings that constitute the monument of El Escorial together with the surrounding nature are the attractions of this small jewel.
How to get there:
You can either take the bus or the train to reach the town centre from Madrid. Since El Escorial is at the top of a slope I would suggest, just as we did, going with the bus that stops just few minutes away from the monastery and going back to the city with the train, so you can walk downhill to reach the train station and in the meantime enjoy a nice walk in the nature.
By bus: busses number 661 or 664 to/from the tube station of Moncloa (55 min) – 4,20€
By train: line C8A to/from the stations of Atocha (1h) or Chamartín (50 min) – 5,40€
What to see and do:
- visit the Royal Monastery of El Escorial (10€). The building is huge so be sure to have enough time to visit all the halls, the gallery, the museum of architecture, the amazing library and the pantheon.
- walk in the streets of the town and remember to look up: all the building here seem to have been constructed in order to please the eyes of the Kings.
- have a couple of beers in one of the many tiny squares of the town and enjoy the simple life.
- wander under the trees, through the many parks and breathe some fresh air before going back to reality.