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El Escorial

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El Escorial: Our most recommended tours and activities

Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial Entrance Ticket

1. Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial Entrance Ticket

Enjoy a visit to the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and discover the ideological and cultural aspirations of the Spanish Golden Age. See how Italian and Flemish artistic forms blend together and learn of the era of Philip II. Explore the building that houses several different purposes. First, the monastery of San Lorenzo el Real was created for the monks of the order of St. Jerome. Explore around and learn of Emperor Charles V and his wife who once lived there. Experience the untouched layout of the building, which to this day is largely unaltered. From the Library to the palace, walk through and find the Basilica, erected in 1574, and ponder the artwork that took years to complete.

Escorial Monastery and the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid

2. Escorial Monastery and the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid

Leave Madrid in the morning and travel 50 minutes to San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Visit the baths upon arrival and then begin the tour of the San Lorenzo Monastery. Learn the long history of Spain, specifically the reign of Felipe II. See the building that best summarizes the ideological and cultural aspirations of the Spanish “Golden Age” and is named a World Heritage Site. See places like the Patio de Reyes, Cloister, Chapter Rooms, The Basilica (except on Sundays), The Pantheon of Kings and Infants, and the Royal Rooms. Travel to the Valley of the Fallen located in the Peña de Cuelga Muros after leaving San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Visit its surroundings and the basilica carved into the rock, and the burial place for 33,847 people who died in the Spanish Civil War. Be amazed by the great granite cross that is visible from kilometers away.

From Madrid: Escorial and Valley of the Fallen Tour

3. From Madrid: Escorial and Valley of the Fallen Tour

On this 5-hour tour from Madrid you’ll begin with a visit to the Monastery of El Escorial. It was built under the reign of powerful King Philip II as a residence for Spanish kings, a monastery, and a royal pantheon. It became a symbol of the great power of the Spanish Empire at that time. The monument was declared to be of artistic and historic importance and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Valley of the Fallen was built in 1936, about 9 kilometers from Escorial, as a memorial to those who died during the Spanish Civil War. Situated in a beautiful valley in the Guadarrama Mountains, this impressive work features a cross standing more than 150 meters high, as well as a basilica and crypt built into the hard rock under the mountain. The tour includes admission to the Valley as well as a visit to the basilica’s interior.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial: Monastery and Site Guided Tour

4. San Lorenzo de El Escorial: Monastery and Site Guided Tour

Visit the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and travel through the history of Spain to the reign of Philip II. Admire this Renaissance marvel and learn from your local guide the ideological and cultural aspirations of the Spanish Golden Age. Discover the interior of this imposing building built in the 16th century. Explore the basilica, the Battle Hall, the pantheon, the palatial rooms, and other essential places of the monument. Also, visit the famous library of the Royal Monastery whose volumes were collected by Philip II to expand his humanistic knowledge. After two hours of unveiling the mysteries of this grill-shaped monastery, finish the guided tour next to the entrance.

El Escorial, Valle de los Caidos and Toledo Full-Day Tour

5. El Escorial, Valle de los Caidos and Toledo Full-Day Tour

Begin your full-day tour with a morning visit to the Monastery of El Escorial, built under the reign of powerful King Philip II as a residence for Spanish kings. See the Monastery and Pantheon of the Royal Family at this site that was declared a monument of Artistic and Historic Interest, and Mankind Heritage. Your tour includes the Monastery, the Cloister of the 4 Evangelists, the Palace of Philip II, the Pantheon of the Royal Family, the Chapterhouses, and the Basilica. The Valley of the Fallen is a memorial to those who died during the Spanish Civil War. Situated in a beautiful valley in the mountains of Guadarrama, this impressive work features a colossal cross standing over 150 meters high, and Basilica and Crypt excavated in the rock under the mountain. This tour includes admission to the Valley and a visit inside the Basilica. On arrival in Toledo you’ll take a panoramic walking tour of the city, entering the old quarter to visit the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and admire the façade of the impressive Primate Cathedral, the old Palace of Justice, and the City Hall. Continue your walk through the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter to the Church of St. Tomé, home to the famous El Greco painting, The Burial of Count Orgaz. You’ll also visit the old Synagogue of Ste. Maria la Blanca, which remains as a symbol of the coexistence of the 3 Cultures. Afterwards you’ll visit a typical damasquino factory to see this well-known handicraft art form of Toledo.

El Escorial & Basilica of the Valley 5-Hour Guided Tour

6. El Escorial & Basilica of the Valley 5-Hour Guided Tour

After meeting with your guide, get away from the bustle of the city on a comfortable air-conditioned coach. At the first stop, enjoy a guided tour through the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, an architectural ensemble declared World Heritage site by UNESCO. Built in the 15th century, it is a symbol of the power of the government at the time. Learn about the impressive Royal Mausoleum and the story behind the 21 years of construction time. Marvel at the symmetry of the Renaissance-style building. Listen to your guide's commentaries as you explore the Habsburg Palace, the Chapter House, the Basilica, and the remarkable library.  Then, board your bus again for a short drive to the Valley of the Fallen. The site is located 9 kilometers away from El Escorial, in Sierra de Guadarrama. This enormous monument, built between 1940 and 1959, is carved into the mountain, 1,350 meters up. An impressive 150-meter-high cross stands over the magnificent nature reserve of Madrid’s mountain range, which can be seen from miles away.

Madrid: Escorial, Valley of the Fallen, Segovia with Lunch

7. Madrid: Escorial, Valley of the Fallen, Segovia with Lunch

Leave Madrid and head to the beautiful Valley of the Fallen, declared a National Heritage Site. Tour the amazing location and discover Spain of the 20th century. Have the special chance to admire the largest Christian cross in the world.  Following, visit El Escorial, the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance, and learn about Spanish royalty. Immerse yourself in the historic atmosphere of the place before following your expert guide into the heart of Segovia. Visit the aqueduct and the areas of the convents, along the way listening to stories and legends that span back to the centuries before the Muslim conquest. Discover the most emblematic places of the city, its history, its hidden corners and anecdotes, and its main monuments such as Alcazar of Segovia or the Cathedral. Following this cultural pitstop, discover Spanish gastronomy, settling down at a traditional restaurant for a famous Cochinillo Segoviano (suckling pig). The suckling pig has had a constant presence in the culture and cuisine of Segovia. Learn the tastes, recipes, and tradition of preparation across different countries and you may arrive to the conclusion that Segovia's version is the most surprising of them, due to its simplicity and natural cooking approach.

Madrid: Toledo and El Escorial Full-Day Coach Tour

8. Madrid: Toledo and El Escorial Full-Day Coach Tour

Begin your tour in El Escorial. This was the symbol of the Spanish power in the 16th-century and commemorates the battle of St. Quentin. It is also mausoleum for Charles V. Due to the symmetry and balance of its construction, according to the humanist Renaissance style, for years it had been considered for years the eighth wonder of the world. Explore Habsburg Palace, the Kings and Princes Mausoleum, the Chapter House, and the Basilica. Next, 9 kilometers away from El Escorial, discover an enormous monument built between 1940 and 1959 to honor the fallen during the Spanish Civil War.  The basilica is carved into the mountain at 1,350 meters where an impressive 150 meters high cross places itself over the magnificent landscape of Madrid’s mountain range. Discover the City of the Three Cultures, 70 kilometers from Madrid. Toledo is a beautiful city-museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the oldest towns in Europe and has great artistic beauty with buildings from almost all periods in history including Arabian, Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance, and Baroque style. Visit the outside of the Cathedral and the interior of the Sto. Tomé Church with The Burial of the Lord of Orgaz, a masterpiece by El Greco. Explore the interior of the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca and the interior of the incredible monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes. Go to see a demonstration of the famous technique of damascened, inlay of precious metals in steel and forging of swords. Finish your tour with a panoramic sightseeing tour of Toledo and stop at a viewpoint for breathtaking views of the city where you can take the best pictures of Toledo.

From Madrid: El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen, & City Tour

9. From Madrid: El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen, & City Tour

See the largest Renaissance building in the world at the El Escorial monastery on this tour in Madrid. Go to where the dictator Francisco Franco was once buried at the Valley of the Fallen. Take a drive to the key key sights in Madrid with a local guide. Be picked up from your hotel in Madrid by your driver. Relax on the trip to the El Escorial monastery that was built by King Philip II. Explore this massive complex that is a monastery, hospital, royal palace, pantheon, library, university, museum, and basilica. Next, continue to the Valley of the Fallen that is a catholic basilica and a monument where national figures have been laid to rest. Take a look at the artwork at this site where 40,000 people have been buried. Listen to your guide tell you about the Spanish Civil war. Ride through Madrid and see the top sights before heading back to your accommodation.

Other Sightseeing Options in El Escorial

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What people are saying about El Escorial

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 823 reviews

Diego made this a very special day!! We traveled in comfort and he provided insightful commentary. Each place we visited was more magnificent than the last Don’t miss the opportunity to see the Valley of the Fallen, the Escorial or Segovia.

Excellent excursion for those who do not know (as is my case) the history of the Monastery. A detailed explanation of Cristina (our guide) made us know a little about its history. Highly recommended. Excellent guide.

Everything is very well organized, comfortable bus and the guide Cristina very nice and willing, as well as careful of the people on the excursion. The valley of the fallen is a unique landscape and energy

El Escorial is a very well preserved and cared for monastery. The guide that has touched us (Cristina) very friendly, attentive, not rushed and knows the subject. I loved it.

The transport and the visit were very well provided. The guide Cristina was very pleasant and very competent. It was a pleasure.