Stopping briefly today at El Escorial, we visited the massive palace built by Philip II from where he ruled from 1584 to his death in 1598. Designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo, the enclave includes a monastery, basilica, and a stunning library.

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Philip II was perhaps the most powerful ruler in Spain’s history at a time when Spain was a world superpower.

In 1584, his title read: “Philip, by the grace of God second of his name, king of Castille, Leon, Aragon, Portugal, Navarre, Naples, Sicily, Jerusalem, Majorca, Sardinia, and the islands, Indies, and terra firma of the Ocean Sea; archduke of Austria; duke of Burgundy, Lothier, Brabant, Limbourg, Luxembourg, Guelders, and Milan; Count of Habsburg, Flanders, Artois, and Burgundy; Count Palatine of Hainault, Holland and Zeeland, Namur, Drenthe, Zutphen; prince of “Zvuanem”; marquis of the Holy Roman Empire; lord of Frisia, Salland, Mechelen, and of the cities, towns, and lands of Utrecht, Overissel, and Groningen; master of Asia and Africa.”

He was also King of England and Ireland upon his marriage to Mary I of England in 1554 (having first met her two days earlier) until she died in 1558.

The Phillipines are named for him.

panish Territories

The most memorable and historically important part of our visit was to the Pantheons of Kings and Princes where almost all the Spanish monarchs, their consorts and (sadly) the infant heirs to the throne are buried. Gruesomely, the remains go first to the pudridero (“decaying chamber”) for 20 to 30 years; only then are they interred in the tombs. I wonder if this tradition started with the Hapsburgs, who for some reason buried the organs of their monarchs in St. Stephen’s Cathedral and their empty bodies in the Capuchin Imperial Crypt  in Vienna.

The Spanish Pantheon is gorgeous, with walls and crypts of marble decorated with gold-coated bronze. It reminded me of the Pantheon in Rome and the Medici crypt in Florence.

Pantheon of Kings, El Escorial

Medici Chapel, Florence

Interior of the Pantheon, Rome,
by Giovanni Paolo Pannini

Philip II is interred here; he died of cancer in 1598 and was succeeded by his son, crowned Philip III.

For more information, and for information about all Spain’s monarchs, this is a great website:


Note:  The images in this post are not mine.

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