- Dec 15, 2021
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The motivations that led Philip II (1556-1598) to build the Monastery of El Escorial were basically two: on the one hand the desire to fulfill a promise to build a temple in thanksgiving for the victory of the battle of San Quentin against the French, which took place on August 10, 1557, the day of San Lorenzo.
In second place the desires of his father Charles I (1500-1558) of Spain and V of Germany that although in a first moment he had wanted to be buried in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Granada, at the last minute he changed his mind and wanted to be buried together with his wife the Empress Isabel of Portugal in the Monastery of Yuste (Cáceres) but leaving nevertheless the final decision in the hands of his son Philip II. He decided that the monastery should become the Royal Pantheon of the Austrian dynasty, starting with his father.
The place chosen for the construction of the monastery was an area located in the Sierra de Guadarrama that bore the name of Escorial, a name that seems to come from the slag (remains of smelting) that existed there due to the numerous blacksmiths installed there.
The esplanades that run along the north and west sides of the monastery are called Lonjas. Well, under the north market runs a passageway or subway tunnel, very unknown aspect called La Mina, and that served for the transport of people and materials on cold winter days from the nearby houses of the trades located in front of the north facade and the hallway of the palace, allowing work on cold days sheltered from inclement weather. This underpass was built during the reign of King Charles III (1759-1788) by Friar Antonio de San José Pontones according to a project by the Count of Montalvo.
At present the monastery is governed by a congregation of Augustinian monks, but since its creation, the monks in charge of the monastery were the Hieronymite monks, an order closely linked to the Spanish monarchy. It should not be forgotten that it was the Hieronymite monks who accompanied Charles I to Yuste. They made their entry into the Escorial monastery in 1571.
The works began in 1563 and finished, although it seems incredible, in 1584. Juan Bautista de Toledo began the work, but when he died in Madrid on May 21, 1567, Juan de Herrera took charge of the works, who would be the architect and creator of this great work that would even give its name to a style of architecture: the Herreriano. The first stone was laid on April 23, 1563 and the last on September 13, 1584. Together with the architects, Fray Antonio de Villacastin collaborated with them as supervisor and centralizer of all the works of the Escorial, who would become the person to lay the last stone of the monastery.