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If you’re visiting Madrid, you should definitely spend half a day on a side trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial. It’s an essential visit, where you will admire the monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with secrets from the history of Spain hidden inside.
Symbol of the Spanish Golden Age, the Monastery of El Escorial was the first example of the architectural style which came to be known as Herrerian after its creator, Juan de Herrera.
With our licensed guide, you will go along the rooms used by Philippe the 2nd and his court, including the bedroom where he, despite being ill, continued ruling his immense empire till he passed away in 1598. You will visit the outstanding basilica, the mausoleum, with the tombs of most Spanish kings along 400 years, the impressive library, etc.
El Escorial helps us to understand better a period of Spanish history and art that are basic for Spaniards but also for the rest of the known world in those days.
Afterwards we will head to Segovia, where a typical Castilian lunch will be waiting for us. In Segovia we find an impressive aqueduct from the days of the Roman Empire that marks the entrance to this fairy-tale Castilian city, with the Sierra de Guadarrama in the background. After the initial amazement at this magnificent feat of engineering, with 119 arches held together only by the balance of forces.
While you walk in the historical city with your official guide, you will see beautiful towers belonging to Romanesque churches built around the 12th century. We still keep about 15 of them. You might see the front of the old synagogue, transformed into a catholic nunnery, and beautiful façades of mansions and stately homes that belonged to the Castilian high nobility, transformed into schools, art galleries or even saving banks.
We will visit, of course, the gem of Segovia, the 12th-century fortress. It was built on top of a rock, a testament to its original military status, and it was used as a residence by Alfonso VIII. In the 13th century the building took on an air of Gothic elegance that is present nowadays. King Philippe the 2nd married there for the 4th and last time! It is real fairytale castle that cannot be missed.