🇪🇸 San Lorenzo de El Escorial, also known as El Escorial de Arriba, is a town and municipality in the Community of Madrid, Spain, located to the north-west of the region in the south-eastern side of the Sierra de Guadarrama, at the foot of Mount Abantos and Las Machotas [es], 47 km (29 mi) from Madrid. It is head of the eponymous judicial party. The settlement is popularly called El Escorial de Arriba, to differentiate it from the neighbouring village of El Escorial, also known as El Escorial de Abajo.
The Monastery of El Escorial is the most prominent building in the town and is one of the main Spanish Renaissance monuments. Especially remarkable is the Royal Library, inside the Monastery. The monastery and its historic surroundings were declared a World Heritage Site UNESCO in 1984, under the name of "El Escorial, monastery and site".
The site also enjoys protection on Spain's heritage register; since June 21, 2006, it has been protected by the Community of Madrid as a Property of Cultural Interest.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is located on the southern slopes of the Mount Abantos (elevation 1753 m). The average altitude of the municipality is 1,032 metres (3,386 ft), and most of the urban area is above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The hamlet initially sprang up around Monastery of El Escorial, gradually extending up the mountain. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the town underwent a strong urban expansion, particularly towards the south-eastern side of Mount Abantos.
Economy Tourism, hospitality and trade are the main economic activities of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The municipality is one of the most important tourist destinations in the community of Madrid. Visitors usually make day trips with Madrid tourism as a starting point. The number of tourists staying overnight are insignificant as in other historical cities in the region, such as Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez or Chinchón. In recent years, the town has attempted to consolidate hotel tourism, trade fairs, conventions and cultural and educational nature courses. The Universidad Complutense holds summer courses to promote San Lorenzo de El Escorial as a Euroforum installations. The municipality has 10 hotels with a total of 611 rooms (year 2006).
Inside of this municipality are two of the most visited monuments in the nation national. The Monastery of El Escorial is the second most visited monument with highest number of visits (504,238 tourists 2004), short of the Royal Palace of Madrid (720,710 in the same year). The Valley of the Fallen, located on the outskirts of town, is the third in the national list (407,578).
Construction is another economic activity on the rise in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Although much of its area is protected, as with the Herrería forests, the town has experienced strong urban growth in recent years, with the creation of new housing developments in areas that lack legal protection from development. This is the case of the south-eastern slope of Mount Abantos, which has many newly constructed neighbourhoods, especially after the August 21, 1999, fire that burned 450 acres (1.8 km2) of pine.