Sierra De Guadarrama - History - Monuments and Structures of Interest

Monuments and Structures of Interest

The magnificent scenery, the balmy summer climate and, especially, the proximity to Madrid and Segovia have resulted in the erection of many striking buildings and monuments on the hillsides of the Sierra de Guadarrama.

The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, is an immense palace, Augustinian monastery, museum, and library complex located at San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Designed by the architects Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera in an austere classical style, and built from 1563 to 1584, it is shaped as a grid in memory of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. The complex has an enormous store of art, including masterworks by Titian, Tintoretto, El Greco, Velázquez, Roger van der Weyden, Paolo Veronese, Alonso Cano, José de Ribera, Claudio Coello and others; its library containing thousands of priceless ancient manuscripts; and the complex has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the north face of Monte Abantos, surrounded by thick pine groves, is the Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos ("Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen"). Conceived by General Francisco Franco to honour those killed during the Spanish Civil War, the monument contains beneath it the remains of 40,000 fallen soldiers, as well as a basilica in which Franco himself is interred. Above rises a massive granite cross — 150 m high — which is visible from as far away as 50 km.

In Rascafría, in the centre of the Lozoya valley, lies the Monasterio de Santa María de El Paular ("Monastery of Santa María of Paular"). Surrounded by scenic mountainscapes, the monastery features a large cloister and dates to the late 14th century. It was constructed at the behest of king Henry II of Castile and in 1876 was declared a Spanish National Monument.

The castillo de Manzanares ("Castle of Manzanares"), is a medieval fort in the municipality of Manzanares el Real, at the foot of La Pedriza. It is composed of several cylindrical towers and dates to the 15th century.

In the town of Pedraza, is a namesake medieval castle, castillo de Pedraza. The citadel rises on a hill protecting the town. It dates to the 14th century and an expansion during the 16th century. Although at one time in disrepair, the castle was restored in modern times and is in a good state of preservation. The structure is protected on all sides by its original, ancient walls, lending a medieval ambience to the surroundings.

In the municipality of San Ildefonso in Castile and León lies the Baroque style Palacio Real de la Granja de San Ildefonso, a royal residence actually used in summer by Spanish nobility. It was commissioned by Philip V of Spain in 1724. The palace's extensive gardens feature numerous sculptures of mythological beings which are highly prized for their artistic value. The gardens were based on those King Philip V had known during his childhood in the French royal court.

Read more about this topic:  Sierra De Guadarrama, History

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