The Escorial has few rivals among the great buildings of Spain. Only one of the cathedrals could outdo its architectural presence, or, for impressive simplicity, perhaps the Roman aqueduct at Segovia. On a platform between woods of evergreen oaks and the snowy Guadarrama, this palace and monastery, built by Philip II, the enemy of Queen Elizabeth, measures 740×575ft, and 2,673 windows pierce its granite walls. Yet somehow this renaissance wonder of the world acquired the image of the dark labyrinth of a mad king. In this book, Henry Kamen, who in 1997 changed Philip's reputation with a new biography, explodes myths that have piled up around the king's architectural brainchild. Kamen lets future visitors to the Escorial view it with a less jaded and better focused eye.
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