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The Company Quarters

The Company Quarters were designed by Francisco de Mora, architect, and disciple and follower of Juan de Herrera. The construction work was undertaken between 1590 and 1597, with the aim of housing in a single building all the warehousing, services and animals of the Hieronymite Community, the religious order entrusted with the care and maintenance of the Monastery.

The main building of the Company Quarters had a square floor plan with a square interior patio, and there was a first floor with fifteen arches per side on square columns and a second floor with large square windows over which the slate roofs were placed.

On the ground floor were the mill, the ovens, the refectory with kitchen, as well as cells for guests and friars of the mendicant orders. On the upper floor were the craftsman workshops and the infirmary. In the southern row of rooms, a large doorway of a Tuscan order was opened to allow carriages and livestock to pass. To its left was a one-floor building for the smithies and coach houses.

The main façade is the southern one, of Herreran style; it stands out due to its sober wall surface of granite masonry, interrupted by the embellishment of the openings, the fascia and the stonework cornice.

At the end of the 19th century, the buildings were in an abandoned state. This brought about their delivery in 1892 to the Order of Saint Augustine, the new community that took care of the Monastery, in order to establish in it the Royal College of Advanced Studies of El Escorial, known today as the Real Centro Universitario María Cristina (Maria Cristina Royal University) in honour of its protector, the reigning queen Maria Cristina of Hapsburg-Lorraine.

The declaration dated 3rd June 1931 classifying the Palace and Monastery of San Lorenzo as a Historical-Artistic Monument includes the Company Quarters among the attached buildings.

Currently, the Maria Cristina Royal University teaches courses in Law, Business Administration and Management and Chiropractics. In addition, it is one of the centres providing Summer Courses in San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

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