El Escorial

Madrid for kids
6. The King's Bedroom This is the bed King Philip II died in.   Almost directly under the floor is his sarcophogus.   He could watch Mass through an opening into the basilica from this bed when he was ill.   What is that device with the long handle on the floor next to the bed?

7. The Pantheon of Kings is designed after the Roman Pantheon's semi circular dome, except there is no opening [oculus] at the peak of the dome.   Creating a tomb fit for kings was the real purpose of the Escorial.   There are twenty six sarcphogi with either a King, Queen or their mums inside.   How many are empty?

8. The Basilica How high is the dome in the basilica

Go to the front and look at the main altar.   To the sides you will see sculptures of the royal family and under them you will see doors.   These doors are to the King Philip II's apartments and would be opened so he could watch Mass from bed.
The facade [front face] of the Basilica has six Kings.  It was decided after the design was made to add the kings of Judah.  The original design had the columns continuing to form obelisks.   Critics believe this change has spoilt the harmonious proportions .   What do you think?

9. These Sphinx like creatures carry a huge weight on their shoulders.   Where in the Escorial are they
10. They hold up

This device is called an Armillary sphere A ball representing the Earth or, later, the Sun is placed in its center.  It is used to demonstrate the motion of the stars around the Earth.  Armillary spheres were developed by the Greeks and were used as teaching tools already in the 3rd century B.C.

The Library

11.On the vaulted ceiling are seven frescos depicting the medieval categories of the liberal arts:
grammar rhetoric logic arithmatic geometry music and astrology

12. Why do you think all the books have the pages facing outwards?

There are many Illuminated manuscripts open at beautiful pages.   Look at the designs on each of them.   If you have a camera, take a photo of the manuscript you think is the most beautiful.   Some pages have gold leaf.  Before the Gutenberg Printing Press [1453] books were copied mainly in monasteries, or (from the 13th century) in commercial scriptoria, where scribes wrote them out by hand.
Books were therefore a scarce and precious resource.  It might take someone a year or more to hand copy a Bible.  At El Escorial there have been a number of fires and luckily the main library has been spared but some collections stored in other areas have been lost.

Notice how the first letter of the first word on the page is often very ornate and much larger.   There is also often a beautiful border.   The Illuminator may incorporate flowers or people into the primary letter.  

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