Another quick drive out of Madrid into the hills of the Sierra de Guadarrama took us to the Escorial-a palace, monastery, and mausoleum of Spanish kings. Built in the 16th century by King Felipe II, its massive size and austere lack of decoration is the largest example of the Spanish Renassaince. It is incredible to see, but balancing the idea of it as a palace next to the cold severe architecture and knowing that you'll be walking past the tombs of the kings, queens, and all their kids when you step inside, borders on being a little creepy.
A visit to the palace includes a visit to the royal apartments, where you can see king Felipe's bed, moved to a position that he could see the alter in the Basilica looking out a window from his bed, and the royal mausoleum where dark marble stairs lead to the resting place of the kings and queens. It's worth seeing...but try to visit on a sunny day!