The composition of this panoramic view of El Escorial derives from engravings published in Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarium (1570-1612) and in Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1572-1617). El Escorial was built by Philip II of Spain and conceived as a building which would serve multiple purposes: a burial place for his father Charles V, a monastery, and a royal palace. Located in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, northwest of Madrid, the vast complex, considered the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance, was begun in 1563 and completed in 1584. In 1671 a devastating fire, which lasted for fifteen days, did a great deal of damage to the building and gardens which were later rebuilt. Of the many renditions of this composition, the present painting is rare in that it includes an elaborate fountain in the garden at right, which was presumably destroyed in the fire.