History : Jul-Aug 2018
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 65 IN HIS WILL, EMPEROR CHARLES V stipulated that a panthe- on be built to contain the remains of Spain’s monarchs. Ever the dutiful son, Philip II ordered the construction of a palace 30 miles to the north of Madrid. Completed in 1567, the Italian-style Palace of El Escorial packs an imperial residence, a monastery, a royal mausoleum, a church, and a library containing thousands of rare, illuminated manuscripts into a forbiddingly austere quadrangle. Severe in style and overwhelming in size, El Escorial was intended by Philip to reflect Spain’s divine mission in bringing Catholicism to the New World, and the role of its kings as the heirs of the emperor Augustus and the “Lords of All the World.” At the heart of the complex stands the El Escorial Monastery, dedicated to the martyr St. Lawrence; its grid design, it is said, is modeled on the gridiron on which the third-century Lawrence was roasted to death. In 1598 Philip died in El Escorial, and he is buried in the pantheon he had built. PALACIO EL ESCORIAL RICHMOND PALACE, VIEWED FROM ACROSS THE THAMES RIVER, IN A 1638 ENGRAVING BY WENCESLAUS HOLLAR PHILIP OF SPAIN IN A 1551 PORTRAIT BY TITIAN. PRADO MUSEUM, MADRID AKG/ALBUM AKG/ALBUM Fittingly for rulers of two vastly different realms, Elizabeth’s residence of choice was relatively cozy, while Philip’s was a sprawling, mini city of chilly grandeur.