The Historic Edinburgh Castle

The United Kingdom consists of the isle of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain further comprises England, Scotland and Wales. Scotland is situated to the north of England and has its ceremonial capital in Edinburgh. There are various places of tourist interest in the city, such as the Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Canton Hill and its churches. UK holidays can be planned by tourists to explore the city and its beautiful attractions.

 

Edinburgh Castle

 

The Edinburgh Castle is a prominent attraction, not only in Scotland but the entire United Kingdom. It is situated on the top of an extinct volcano, which is believed to have been inhabited since the Iron Age. Most of the structures inside the castle date from the 12th century onwards. The forecourt, at the base of the volcano, leads to the Gatehouse, which is the main entry. Following the paved road, visitors reach the Portcullis Gate, under the Argyle Tower. Moving further, a small flight of stairs leads to Argyle Battery, which is one of the several military structures inside the complex. Outside the building, is the One O’ Clock, which is fired at 1 pm every day and opposite to it is the Mons Meg cannon, which was given to King James II by the Philip of Burgundy in 1457. The western defences are reached by climbing steps, beside the Argyle building and then going right. To the left of these steps are the      Governor House and National War Museum. Various weapons used by the Scottish armies are housed in the museum. Opposite the museum are barracks and the regimental museums. Behind the regimental museums are the Durys Battery and military prisons. The former houses the Prisons of War, where prisoners from France, Spain, US, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Denmark were kept.

 

A narrow road from the buildings leads to the Crown Square, which is surrounded by buildings like the Great Hall, Royal Palace and Scottish National War Memorial. The king administered his country from the Great Hall, where the guests honoured him and sang his praises. A rather sizeable collection of weapons and arms is on display here. The Scottish monarchs sometimes resided in the royal palace, which also provided refuge during times of turmoil. King James VI was borne by Queen Mary of Scots inside this building. Its first floor houses the royal crown, sceptre and the sword of the monarch, which are collectively known as Honours of Scotland. A boulder, known as the Stone of Destiny, atop which the coronations happened, is also part of the exhibits. The Scottish National War Memorial has stained glass paintings of WWI and sculptures symbolising courage, justice, peace and eternity of the human soul. Statues of animals representing various vices and virtues are worth seeing.

 

Coming out of the Crown Square and following the road through the Foogs Gate gets visitors to the chapel of St. Margaret, built in 1130 by David I. Weddings and baptisms are still held inside it. People then follow the road past the Forewall and the Half-Moon Batteries. The latter overlooks the main entry and was built to hurl cannonballs towards it in the event of an attempted invasion. A London tour can be modified to explore this medieval establishment, which dominates the Edinburgh skyline.

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A Journey to the Topkapi Palace of Istanbul

The Ottoman Empire was amongst the largest and most influential kingdoms in the world. At the zenith of its power, it spread from South-eastern Europe to the Horn of Africa. It was founded in 1299 by Osman I, whose father had come to Anatolia from Merv in modern-day Turkmenistan to fight the Byzantine Empire. The two empires coexisted in Turkey till 1453, when the city of Constantinople fell and the Byzantine Empire ended. Upon its defeat, the city became the new capital of the Ottoman Turks and after the dissolution of the empire, it was renamed as Istanbul and was made the capital of the modern country. Istanbul is located in the northwest of the country, bordering Greece in the east, Bulgaria in the north, Mediterranean Sea in the south and Black Sea in the northeast. Tourists during their Turkey holidays can flock to the Topkapi Palace, which served as the centre of the Ottoman power for 400 years.

 

Topkapi Palace

 

Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Turkey. Its construction began in 1459 and in the past, as many as 4000 people lived inside the complex. Four main courtyards and several buildings are located inside its premises. The main gate, located to the south of the complex, is a high archway, which leads to a covered passage. Verses from the Quran, done in Turkish calligraphy, adorn the arch. A huge park is situated in the first courtyard, which is the largest of all such areas.

the Mint
The Mint

Surviving structures in the yard are the Mint, a Byzantine church and some fountains.

Gate of Salutation
Gate of Salutation

The Gate of Salutation leads people to the second courtyard. An inscription on the gate traces its history to 1542. Near the gate is a fountain, which was reportedly used by executioners to wash their hands and swords. Buildings, previously housing kitchens, hospital, bakery, divans and harems, surround the second yard. Some of the royal carriages are often displayed behind the gate. The imperial kitchen has three doors, 20 chimneys and a collection of 10700 Chinese crockery. More chambers housed stables, royal council, treasury and an arms collection.

Tower of Justice
Tower of Justice

The Tower of Justice is the tallest tower in the yard and the palace.

Gate of Felicity
Gate of Felicity

Apartments of servants are situated in the third courtyard, which is reached via the Gate of Felicity. Located here are the audience building, imperial wardrobe chamber, treasury, portrait gallery, library and a mosque. A chamber here apparently housed the robe, swords, bow, tooth and a hair strand of Mohammed. A large Harem occupied the private apartment of the sultan that had bathrooms and apartments for women. The third yard is deep inside the palace and has gardens and terraces. A room dedicated solely to circumcision is present here along with gazebos known as kiosks. Another building here served as a dispensary, where the physician saw patients on the second floor while the first floor was used as a drug and medicine store. Lush gardens surround the whole complex and a section of them faces the sea. Europe holidays can be planned to see this magnificent example of Turkish architecture.

The Mind-boggling Dubai Mall

Shopping malls are like pilgrimage sites for people who are staunch shopaholics. In the contemporary times, they have become symbols of urbanisation and modernism. Initially a rage among adolescents, they have now become popular among all age groups with thousands of people flocking to them everyday like sheep. The reason for their fame is that a horde of shops and stores offering a wide variety of goods and services is located under the same roof. They are spacious, architecturally unique to one-another and well-ventilated. An added bonus in such arcades is an entire floor or section, dedicated solely to dining. Due to the continuously increasing footfall, real-estate developers are constructing shopping complexes in almost every corner of the world and are often locked in a tug-of-war to build the largest such structure. The Dubai Mall is currently the biggest of its kind and it has become almost a tradition for people on their UAE holidays to visit it.

Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall lies in downtown Dubai, which is the prime financial and business area in the city. It opened in 2008 after being delayed twice, and upon inauguration 635 retailers had already leased its shops. This 502000 sq. metres mega-mall is also the most visited in the world. It has been claimed by its developer that its total area equals that of 50 football pitches. Of its total area, about 3.77 sq. feet is available for business. As per reports, over 37 million people came here in 2009 and statistics show that it receives about 750000 visitors every day. A 250-room hotel, 120 restaurants, 22 cinemas and the largest candy store in the world are housed in this four-storey structure. Its three parking spaces have a total capacity for 14000 vehicles.

Main Attractions

Dubai-Mall-Underwater
Dubai-Mall-Underwater

The biggest attraction here is perhaps the aquarium and underwater zoo, located in the centre of the plaza. It is 50 metres long and has about 33000 individual marine creatures inside. A tunnel, made of thick glass, has been constructed inside the aquarium, allowing visitors to come close to the underwater life. It can also be viewed from outside, through an acrylic panel. Ticket to it costs between AED 80 and AED 110.

Dubai Mall ice rink
Dubai Mall ice rink

An ice rink, having a human capacity of 2000, also attracts huge numbers of visitors. AED 55 is the starting limit for ticket prices to the rink, where visitors can skate or play ice hockey.

SEGA Republic, Dubai Mall
SEGA Republic

Kids and video game lovers will find the SEGA Republic quite interesting. It is a 76000 sq. feet large theme park, which has more than 170 video games and simulators.

Dinosaur Skeleton- Dubai Mall
Dinosaur Skeleton- Dubai Mall

An entire skeleton of a dinosaur from the Jurassic Era is also worth seeing while visiting the mall during Dubai holidays. It was discovered in the American state of Wyoming in 2008 and is reportedly 155 million years old.

KidZania, Dubai Mall
KidZania, Dubai Mall

Children can be left at KidZania, which is a sort of an educational area. Here children can learn the life of adults by playing roles of surgeons, fire-fighters, engineers and chefs.

Remembering Lincoln

The US is considered the most powerful country in the world and is the only super power. This country was originally inhabited by the natives, who in the contemporary world are known as Red Indians. In 16th century AD, the British protestants, fearing prosecution at the hands of Mary I of England, fled and came to North America to start anew. In 1776, 13 colonies declared independence from England and the USA was born. For a while, everything went fine, until the outbreak of the Civil War. The rebellion was raised by the northern states against colonies of the south that were infamous for using Africans as slaves. Fought between 1861 and 1865, the war ended with the loss of the confederation of the south and led to the abolition of slavery. Abraham Lincoln led the Northern Union to victory and was hailed as a national hero. The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated to him and is visited by many tourists as part of their USA tours.

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is situated in Washington DC, the capital of the United States. It was built in the shape of a Greek temple between 1914 and 1922. Located in the West End, the monument covers an area of around 2539 sq. metres. The entire structure is made of marble, mined from the state of Colorado. It is around 189 metres in length, 118 metres in breadth and 99 metres in height. There are 36 marble pillars, symbolising the 36 states, which were part of the country when Lincoln died. The 44 feet high and 7.5 feet wide columns are not straight, but slightly inclined towards the interior. Names of the 36 states and their date of incorporation into the country are inscribed on the wall above the pillars. Above them, on the same wall, are names of 48 American states, which existed when the memorial was dedicated. To top these is a garland made of plaster. A huge park with a pool leads to the memorial via a flight of stairs.

Twelve 50 feet high pillars divide the interior into three chambers. There are four such pillars in each row. Chambers to the north and south feature inscriptions of two of the speeches delivered by him in his lifetime. Law, justice, freedom, liberty and immortality, all personified as humans, are painted on the southern wall of the monument. Similarly, personifications of unity, charity and fraternity are drawn on the northern wall. Bronze bars support the 60-metre high ceiling, which is decorated with oak leaves. Panels of Alabama marble, smeared with paraffin, are inserted between these bars to increase their translucency.

The Statue

In the central chamber is a mammoth statue of the American hero. He is shown sitting on a bench and in deep thought. Its height is 19 feet from head to toe while the width is the same. The 175-ton statue is made of white marble from and was assembled with 28 individual pieces. Marble for making the 10 feet high, 17 feet long and 16 feet wide pedestal was brought from Tennessee. This beautiful piece of architecture can be visited by travellers as part of their Washington tour packages.

Bangkok – a Marriage of Religion and Modernism

Bangkok is the cosmopolitan capital city of Thailand – the nation with a rich heritage. This mega-city is situated in the central region of the kingdom and is bordered by the Gulf of Thailand in the south. Its skyline is dominated by soaring skyscrapers while the roads and nightlife bustle with locals and people from other parts of the world. In the modern era, Bangkok has quickly developed into a major financial and cultural centre. International holidays have helped in making it a significant tourist attraction with over 30 million people flocking to the city as per reports. Along with its sky-high structures, shopping arcades, theatres and entertainment centres, its places of interest like the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew witness extensive tourist activities.

Grand Palace

Grand Palace
Grand Palace

Grand Palace serves as the residence of the royalty of the kingdom. The palace is divided into four sections; each having a separate complex of buildings. The outer court had buildings related to the administration of the kingdom that are now used by the family of the monarch. In the centre of the complex is the middle court, which is the largest and the most important section of the complex. Most of the residential buildings and administrative offices are located here. It is further sub-divided into three sections and each has a group of structures. To the east of the middle court is the Siwalai Garden, where many buildings were constructed and destroyed over the course of time. The inner court was used by kings, queens, consorts and children from the royal family.

Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew, located in the north-eastern corner of the palace, is among the holiest Buddhist shrines in the kingdom. It is a complex of structures, built in the traditional Rattanakosin style of architecture. Green and orange tiles are used to decorate the roof and pillars of the central shrine. The triangular structure, atop the columns, is made of white marble. On the top of a high pedestal sits a statue of Buddha. It is made of green nephrite and is draped in cloaks made of gold that are changed thrice a year by the king. The changing of clothes is done corresponding to the three seasons – summer, winter and rainfall. Buddha in this statue is depicted sitting in a meditative position known as Padmasana. The shelter above the statue and the surrounding pillars are also covered in gold.

Walls, equalling 2 km in length, surround the temple and its constituent buildings, and are decorated with scenes from the Ramayana – a famous Hindu epic. There are a total of 178 scenes adorning the walls that narrate the entire story. The idea of these murals is to make people realise the importance of focusing on values of faith, devotion and honesty. Outside the central shrine are twelve salas built by king Rama I. Salas are open pavilions where people meet or come to protect themselves from the sun and rain. The pavilions inside the Wat Phra Kaew house various historical artefacts brought from countries like Java and Cambodia. People visiting it during their Thailand holidays must wear covered clothes like full-sleeved shirts, long pants and skirts.

An Expedition to the Karnak Temple Complex

Egypt was the origin site of one of the earliest civilisations in the world. Settlements here have been dated back to 5500 BC, based on archaeological findings. The kingdom of the Pharaohs was established in around 3100 BC, with the historic unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Thereon, the godsons ruled the land till the Persian conquest in 5th century BC. After that, the land of the Nile was ruled by Mesopotamians, Romans and Arab Muslims. During the ancient kingdom, many architectural masterpieces like the Pyramids, Valleys of the Kings and Queens, Abu Simbel and Karnak were built. People during Egypt holidays like visiting these world-famous tourist attractions.

Karnak Temple Complex

Karnak Temple Complex
Karnak Temple Complex

According to reports, it is the second most-visited site in the country, after the Pyramids of Giza. Ruins of temples, pylons and chapels are housed inside the premises. Senusret, a ruler of the Middle Kingdom, started building it in 19th century BC.

Senusret
Senusret

Most of the buildings were built during the time of the New Kingdom. The temples here are dedicated to Amun-Re, the head of the Theban Triad.

Amun-Re
Amun-Re

There are three precincts in the complex, which are dedicated to Amun-Re, Mut and Montu. The fourth area here is the temple of Amenhotep IV, who is better known as Akhenaten. Of these four sections, only the precinct of Amun-Re is open to public and has become the international face of the monument.

Precinct of Amun-Re

It is the largest section inside the premises, measuring about 250000 sq. m in area. The east-west axis and south-west corner of the section are open to the general public. Its entry is through a quay, which was used to dock ships, but now remains dry as Nile has changed its course. There are six pylons in the section that are high gateways into the complex. These pylons have two high towers connected by a lower structure. The first of them, which was constructed during the time of the 22nd dynasty, is 113 metres wide and 15 metres thick. Another pylon was erected by Horemheb and decorated by him and Ramesses I. Amenhotep III built the third pylon and the fourth and fifth ones were built by Thutmose I.

A kiosk, which is a small and enclosed garden, was in the forecourt and only one pillar pertaining to it survives today that is inscribed by Taharqa, Psamtik II and Ptolemy IV. To the south of it is the temple of Ramesses III, with inscriptions depicting the king executing his prisoners, with Amun overlooking the action. A large yard, called The Great Hypostyle Hall, has 133 towering pillars in 16 rows and is widely visited by tourists. Thutmose I also built one of the obelisks inside the premises while the other was erected by Hatshepsut. The king recorded his tributes in the hall of records, which is entered by the sixth gateway, constructed by Thutmose III. Other structures here are the sanctuary of Philip II and the festive hall of Thutmose III. A tour package including a visit to this complex can be chosen by visitors who want to sample the ancient Egyptian architecture.

Enjoying Holidays with London Eye

London – the English capital – is among the largest and most-significant cities in the world. It is a global city and a major centre of the world economy. The city was officially founded by the Romans in AD 43, though archaeological findings have traced its history back to around 4500 BC. The area has been under the rule of different people, including the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans. It became the capital of England in the 12th century and has remained as such since then. Being the seat of the monarch, it has always had a significant spot in terms of heritage. The effects of modernism can also be witnessed here as it now is a bustling mega-city and an important metropolis. Tourists from around the world plan exciting London holidays to visit its places of interest like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London and London Eye.

 

London Eye

 

It is a Ferris wheel situated right by the River Thames, which divides London into two parts. Tony Blair – the erstwhile Prime Minister of Britain – inaugurated it in 1999, but public was allowed inside only since 2000. The wheel has a diameter of 210 metres, and the entire structure is 135 metres high. An A-shaped structure holds its centre to the ground. The rim is connected to the centre by metal bars, which makes the attraction look like the wheel of a bicycle. Each of the 32, 10-ton viewing capsules can hold 25 people at once. Tourists can either walk inside them or sit comfortably as seating is provided inside. Its rotation speed is 0.9 km/hour and each rotation takes about half an hour. The slow speed allows people to get inside while the capsule is on the ground and still rotating, but it is generally stopped to let physically-challenged people in. Once at its highest point, tourists can look far and wide into the city from the chambers. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) light the entire metal and glass wheel.

 

An entire chamber can be hired for an extraordinary gazing experience. Couples can book the Cupid Capsule for an exceptional romantic time with complimentary Champaign and a box of truffles. Chocolate junkies can reserve the Hotel Chocolat chamber to sample the rich cocoa desert and Prosecco wine. Those wanting to experience the ultimate, the Champaign Tasting Capsule offers them five different brands of the most-famous wine. Connoisseurs may want to book the entire capsule just to taste the five finest wines in the world. Family get-together can be boosted to unprecedented levels by booking a chamber and choosing from the multiple food and drink options. Events like weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, family dinners, anniversaries, engagement and birthday celebrations can all be hosted inside these capsules.

 

Ticket Prices, Location and Other Information

 

It is situated in South Bank and the Waterloo metro and train stations are just 5 minutes away. UK tour packages generally take travellers here so they can enjoy their holiday like never before. General ticket prices are from GBP 12.60 to GBP 118 while reserving a chamber costs between GBP 350 to GBP 970. The entire Ferris wheel can also be hired for up to eight guests, after it has closed, for GBP 5000.

More information can be gathered at the official website of London Eye at: www.londoneye.com/

The Towering Masterpiece – Burj Khalifa

Dubai is definitely one of the fastest-growing urban centres in the world. It is the second largest and most populous of the seven cities or emirates of the UAE. Situated entirely within the Arabian Desert, it is bordered by the Persian Gulf in the north, Abu Dhabi in its south, Oman in the southeast and Sharjah in the southwest. In the recent years, it has become the financial and entertainment hub of the Middle East. The city was first mentioned in 1095 in the book of an Arab geographer. A Venetian merchant mentioned the city in 1580 for its pearl industry. In 1892, the Emirate came under the control of the British who controlled it till 1971. It started growing rapidly during the 1970s as revenues from the oil trade were put into its development. There is a lot to see here, including its beaches, museums, historical centres and, most importantly, the man-made marvels. Burj Khalifa is one such attraction and almost all Dubai tour packages take people inside this towering piece of architecture.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

It is one of the most-recognised buildings in the world. Standing at over 828 metres, it is the tallest mane-made structure ever built and is also one of the most widely visited. It is constructed using glass and aluminium and is designed to withstand high temperatures and soaring winds. Many records are possessed by it, such the most number of floors at 163, the highest occupied floor at 584.5 metres and the highest observation deck at 452 metres above the ground. Even more interesting is the fact that its inspiration came from traditional Islamic architecture. The tower has 27 step-backs in its exterior, giving it the appearance of a pyramid, with its base wider that the top. A 244-metre high spire tops the 585-metre high building, imparting it a total height of 829.8 metres.

The double-storied basement has spaces for parking vehicles. Floors 1 to 16 and 38 to 39 house the famous Armani Hotel. Residences are present on floors 19 to 37, 44 to 72 and 77 to 108. Floors 111 to 121, 125 to 135 and 139 to 154 have luxurious office suites. Sky lobbies are on storeys 43, 76 and 123, where gyms and jacuzzi are housed. Mechanical spaces on floors 40 to 42, 73 to 75, 109 to 110 136 to 138, 155 and 160 to 163 house the electrical and water supplies and other essential things. The much talked about Atmosphere restaurant is present on floor 122. On the 124th floor is an observation deck, from where tourists can see Dubai and its surrounding areas. Telescopes are available for gazers and they can also step out on the terrace to feel the fresh air. Storeys 150 to 159 have been reserved for communication and broadcasting services. The entire interior of the building is serviced by 57 high-speed lifts and eight escalators.

More Information

Dubai packages take people to Dubai International Airport and to their respective lodgings from there. Observation deck entry fee at Burj Khalifa is AED 125 for people older than 12 years, AED 95 for those between 4 and 12 years of age and nil for children younger than this.

More details about Burj Khalifa can be found at its website: www.burjkhalifa.ae/

Washington National Cathedral- A Must See On USA Holiday

Washington DC is the capital of USA, the significant superpower in the world. The city was named after George Washington – the first President of the United States of America. It is situated in the north-eastern region of the country and is bordered by Maryland in the north, east and south and Virginia in the west. The Resident Act passed by the Congress on July 9, 1790 made it the capital of USA. It receives a lot of tourists, who during their USA holiday visit attractions like Capitol, White House, Pentagon, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, National Cathedral and others.

 

Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral

The history of the cathedral is as old as the city itself, with its plans being drawn in 1792. Its construction started in 1907, after which it was completed in 83 years in 1990. This massive church is built in the Gothic style of architecture, which first flourished in the Dark Ages from the early 12th century to late 15th century. Like all cathedrals of that time, it resembles the Holy Cross in its design. Pointed arches, vaults and glass windows are the main features of this building. The entire church complex, with the gardens, measures 57 acres and the cathedral itself is one of the largest in the world. There are nine bays in the nave and five in the chancel around the altar. Bays are spaces between the carved columns or poles that support the rib-vaulted ceiling. The western tower has a gallery from where people can view the city. There are 63 bells here in two sets; one having 53 and the other 10.

 

Much of the structure is made of Indiana limestone while the altar is made from stones brought from the quarry, from where building material for the Temple of Solomon were sourced. There are over 200 stained glass windows, one of which depicts the human landing on the moon and has a piece of lunar rock as decoration. The interior is done up with state symbols, statues of American leaders and flags hanging from the bays. Crypts were designed in Norman and Romanesque styles, giving a feeling that the cathedral succeeds the earlier such structures. Many objects made of iron are used to decorate the building, such as a huge gate on the northern side of the crypt. The exterior is adorned with stone carvings like that of angels Michael and Gabriel and Darth Vader. Above the arched gateways are circular window panes, decorated with limestone to make them look like flowers – another prominent feature of Gothic Architecture.

 

Information for Visitors

 

People as part of their Washington tour packages can visit this amazing piece of architecture. Opening hours are from 8 am to 5 pm on Sundays, 10 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 4:30 pm on Saturdays. It is situated on Wisconsin Ave and is well-connected by buses. This church is about one and a half mile away from the Tenleytown Metro Station. The period between May to October is ideal to take a trip to this place as the weather then is pleasant.

The Magnificence of El Escorial

Europe is perhaps the most-toured continent in the world. Its scenic beauty, the wide array of historical sites and impressive modern structures attract a large chunk of travelers from across the globe. The reason behind its immense popularity lies in the fact that each country here has a history and distinct culture of its own. Some of the most ancient and significant world civilizations like the Greek and Roman flourished here. A horde of notable monarchs have ruled its various countries and have reigned the world, colonizing almost all of it at some point of time in the past. Europe tours are rampant among people wanting to sample the history and culture of Europe, which mostly speaks of battles fought among its constituent nations and kingdoms.

Spain

The vast Kingdom of Spain is situated in the southeast of the continent and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast and southeast, the Mediterranean in the west, Portugal in the east and France in the north. It has one of the finest histories in Europe, and during the medieval times, it was a fearsome colonial power, housing the infamous navy known as the Armada. The country is dotted with several tourist attractions, which comprise ancient monuments, national parks, beaches and palaces. One such place is the erstwhile royal residence in San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

San Lorenzo de El Escorial
San Lorenzo de El Escorial

This beautiful complex is situated in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is about 45 kilometres north of Madrid. Philip II, the legendary Spanish king, commissioned its construction in 1563 and it was completed after almost two decades in 1584. Its main entry opens up in a courtyard, where the main building of the complex – the basilica – is situated. The façade of this Gothic-style church, which is built in the shape of a sacred Greek cross, has a statue of the king of Judah. Its western end is topped by a 100-metre high bulbous dome, featuring the influence of Baroque Architecture. Next to the highly decorated altar is the austere palace of the king. The Royal Pantheon housing impressive sculptures of rulers is beneath the chapel.

Sculptures of Evangelists are erected in the courtyard, next to the chapel. Paintings of scenes from the Book of Redemption are displayed in galleries surrounding the yard. In one gallery, there are paintings depicting the ancient glory of Spain. The Palace of the Austrians containing more paintings is located next to the courtyard. A building in the complex still houses the historically-significant deathbed of His Majesty. The art gallery has precious Spanish, Venetian, Italian, Flemish and Lombard artworks from the 16th and 17th centuries while the Architectural Museum displays machines used in the construction of the palace along with its blueprints.

Pantheon of Princes
Pantheon of Princes

Various princes and princesses are buried in the Pantheon of Princes, which has 60 niches. A huge library and the lush Garden of Friars are also worth watching within the complex. This wonderful palace can be explored by opting for one of the numerous Spain tours available online with ease. El Escorial is open for public between 10 am and 6 pm from October to March and between 10 pm and 8 pm from April to September.