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a city in Spain, in Madrid Province, New Castile. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama. Population, about 4,000 (1970).
El Escorial is the site of Philip II’s palace-monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, generally called the Escorial (1563-84, architects J. B. de Toledo and J. de Herrera). The Escorial is an isolated, severe, and majestic rectangular ensemble with towers at its corners. It contains 16 inner courtyards, a square domed church that is the compositional center of the ensemble, a palace, a seminary, a monastery library, and a mausoleum.
The Escorial is built of bluish gray granite; the only building in the ensemble that has exterior decoration is the baroque mausoleum (completed 1654, architect G. B. Crescenzi). The Escorial contains paintings and sculptures from the 16th to 18th centuries, including works by F. Zurbarán, El Greco, J. Ribera, D. Velásquez, and Titian. A pavilion known as the Casita del Principe was added to the ensemble in 1772 (architect J. de Villanueva).