“Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy” -Anne Frank
When I think of El Escorial, I think of timeless beauty. I feel like this post is already ridiculously cliche, but I’m ’bout to roll with it.
Anywho, when I see something like this, a massive monastery laden with hundreds of years of history, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with awe.
El Escorial is a holy place endowed with tombs of Spanish royalty, priceless works of art by Valesquez, El Greco, and others, looming stone walls and so, so much more. It was honestly super overwhelming to walk through the monestary, because there was just so much to take in and a relatively short amount of time. Also, the tour group I was in was completely in Spanish, and… The guia, or tour guide, talked very rapidly, and also had a stuffed up nose, so I only caught every 10th word or so. But it was definitely a learning experience to say the least. (At one point I thought I heard “King and four wives wed half a chicken” and I really don’t think that’s right.)
I did catch, however, that the purpose of the elaborate monastery was put into an analogy, something like this: to treat the bugs like kings, and the kings like bugs. The kings’ more modestly decorated “palace” was underground, while the elaborately furnished & decorated upper levels were meant more as a shrine to God.
We weren’t allowed to take much pictures inside, but I did manage to snag this picture before being glared at by a bored security guard:
This is modeled after the cieling of the Sistine chapel, but interestingly enough, each section of the ceiling indicates where books are located. Oh, did I mention that all of the books have golden pages, are placed page-side out on the bookshelf, and have some of the oldest books in history? #geekingout.
But really, how incredible is that? I hope that all of you get the opportunity to visit some day!!
There is so much more to say about that visit, but I think the most striking take away for me was the inner peace I experienced there. While witnessing incredible beauty inspired by the gospel, I felt truly thankful for how places like El Escordial remind me that God is beautiful, He is love, and He is thankfully the one in control.
He loves us all enough to give us the capacity to create beautiful things like ceramic tiles, vast stone structures, delicately carved sculptures, ornate door frames, and so much more.
He gives us the capacity to love, to smile, to laugh, to really feel.
Places like El Escorial wake me up to the fact that we are all capable of living in awe, and not living in awful complacency.