Monastery of El Escorial
Located in the heart of the Sierra de Guadarrama (on a mountainside of the Mount Abantos), just 50
km from Madrid, the Monastry of San Lorenzo del Escorial is one of the most interesting tourist and
cultural sites in the area. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, this grand complex is
the soul of this mountainous town, attracting thousands of visitors every year with its palace,
monastry, museum and library.
The origin of the small village of San Lorenzo del Escorial dates back to the Reconquest
period of the 11th century and the later resettlement of the 12th century. Basically agricultural
and stockbreeding, it lived an isolated existence for many centuries until 1561, when the
Parliament of Madrid was established and Felipe II acquired some land in the area, on which he
ordered the building of the Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial. This small village eventually
grew into a town, as all the people working on the building of the Monastery went to live there.
Trade and craftwork developed, the population increased and a new town hall, a hospital and
mansions for the King's noblemen were erected. Two centuries later, King Carlos III enacted a Royal
Law with the foundational act of this new settlement and its architectural plans, designed by Juan
de Esteban and Juan de Villanueva.
How to get there: Approx. 45 minutes by car, via the A-6 highway. By train: From the railway
stations of Atocha and Chamartín (accessible via the metro stops Atocha and Chamartín
respectively). These are regional trains, so the journey should take approximately one hour. By
bus: There are services from the Moncloa interchange (metro stop Moncloa). The 661 service from
Madrid to El Escorial departs from 6am until 10pm. The journey time is one hour.
Las Ventas Bullring
The Monumental Bullring of Las Ventas is located in Calle Alcalá, 237, offering more than 23,000
seats. It is the biggest in Spain and also considered the most important bullring in the world.
Designed by the architect José Espeliú, the foundation stone of the plaza was laid in March
1922, although the works finished in 1929 and the first bullfight did not take place until June
1931. It later closed until 1935 as the surroundings had to be refurbished for the pending
urbanization of the town. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War forced further cancellation of the
bullfights, lasting until the end of the conflict.
The Monumental Bullring of Ventas was built with brick placed on a metallic structure
inspired in late Neo-Mudejar style. The decoration, the work of Manuel Muñoz Monasterio, was done
with ceramic tiles where the coats of arms of all the Spanish provinces and other purely ornamental
motifs can be appreciated. The arena measures 60 metres in diameter.
The Reina Sofia Art Museum
Located on the site of an old hospital built by Sabatini in 1776, this important contemporary art
museum exhibits classic examples of some of the most significant artistic movements of the 20th
century (cubism, surrealism, 1940 and 50's avant-garde collections, pop-art...). The Centre is
renowned for its collections of paintings and sculptures from famous Spanish artists such as Dalí,
Picasso, Juan Gris, Miró, Chillida and Tàpies. Here you can also appreciate the most famous
collections of Picasso and the "Güernica", an exhibition on the history of the Spanish Civil War.
The museum is located at: Santa Isabel 52. Tel: (+34) 91 774 10 00 - Fax: (+34) 91 774 10 56