Located in the heart of Sierra de Guadarrama and less than an hour away from Madrid, this Royal Village of San Lorenzo del Escorial, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is home to what some consider the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Royal Monastery and Palace of San Lorenzo del Escorial.
The monument was commissioned by King Philip II to commemorate the victory of the Spanish army in the battle of San Quentin in 1557 and in honor of Saint Lawrence, whose feast day is celebrated on the 10th of August and which was the date when the battle took place. The purpose of the ensemble was to be the mausoleum of the Spanish Monarchy. It could also be used as the official residence of the Royal Family and the monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, founded by the Hyeronymite Monks.
The project made this town grow too, as some other buildings were constructed to accommodate the king´s court, the servants, etc. All those buildings were added in perfect harmony with the main one, a fact that makes this place one of the most beautiful in the province of Madrid.
Moreover, about 10 km outside the town is the Valley of the Fallen, or Valle de los Caídos, built after the Spanish Civil War. The most impressive element is the giant cross, 150 metres high, and the abbey, which was directly dug in the rock and is open to the public.