Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
The huge granite rectangular edifice, topped with four spiral towers, is a foreboding sight in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 30 miles (50km) northwest of Madrid. The monastery/church/palace complex was built by Philip II as a memorial to his father, Charles V, and contains some of El Greco's and Hieronymus Bosch's artworks. A vaulted library contains a priceless collection of more than 60,000 ancient books. The monastery itself houses a wealth of paintings and tapestries, and the mausoleum beneath the church's altar serves as a burial place for Spanish kings.
Address: Calle Juan de Borbón y Battemberg
Telephone: 91 890 5903, or 91 890 5313
Transport: Bus 661 and 664 from Madrid, or the Madrid-El Escorial train
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm (until 5pm between October and March)
Admission: €10 (guided), €8 (unguided). Concessions available