July 19, 2024

Monte Abantos, from Escorial

There’s a pretty hefty walk up Monte Abantos, from the car park in Escorial , a semi-posh town formed by monks and royals hundreds of years ago, and now full of woodland retreats for the millionaires of Madrid.

Monte Abantos is circled by a narrow road for cars to wind up, which when I did it five or six years back, got increasingly narrow, rubbly and precarious. But there’s also a walkers trail that cuts across the roads, and takes a more direct though zig zagging route up the Monte to the top. It’s a fair old treck, fit fourteen year olds could make it.

At the top of Monte Abantos you get a marvellous 360 & 270 views, including views of the entire spread of Madrid, some fifty miles in the distance. On hot hot summer days, a beautiful breeze blows over the top of the mountain, which feels like taking a dip in a pool.

By the side of Monte Abantos you can take a wander into the, strictly speaking, off-limit lands owned by the state, and take a view of Franco’s gigantic cement cross, which he planted on an unusual mini rock mountain, to remind people of the Fascist’s victory over the democratically elected Republican government in the 1930s. The cross, basilica and mass cemetery were constructed by government forces, fighters and citizens loyal to the Republican government and its allies, who were captured by the fascists and then imprisoned.

Tracking back down the mountain I was amazed at the sheer number of butterflies, several different species, gaily dancing here and there. There were a fair few hornets and elongated ladybird things feasting on the flowers too.

And cow, humungous cows, which my walking partner breezed past, but which paralysed me and sent me on all kind of mountain scrambles and detours to avoid.

Or, you can let your car do most of the work!

There’s a precipitous car drive up to the top of Monte Abantos, but from the car park, you can take a very good path all the way to the top of Monte Abantos. In winter time you might even find a bit of snow in the higher reaches.

There’s a good guide to the walk here, written in Spanish.


You get a decent view of the monastery at Escorial, walking up Abantos.

At the top you get a fantastic view of the lay of the land, you can see Madrid in the distance, although it doesn’t really show in this photo.

The wall that surrounds the estate of Franco’s former estate. On one side you find the dry rocky terrain of Monte Abantos. On the other side, there’s a huge pine forest, where the floor is extraordinarily spongey and crackly underfoot.

Woods, on the other side of Abantos, in the direction of Franco’s victory monument.

There’s Franco’s victory cross and the basilica. The Catholic church give their full blessing to the fascist slaughter and slave labour of the soldiers, officials and supporters of the democratically elected Republican government.

One of the 270 view from the crest of Monte Abantos.

This photo shows the four big towers in Madrid, which can be seen in the gap of this group of rocks, set on the crest of Monte Abantos.




These crickets or grasshoppers, or what have you, blend into the rocks with their John Major greyness, when stationary. But when they leap, they unveil the most beautiful sky blue wings, which means you can quite easily mistake them for butterflies. If you think they’re butterflies, the effect of the cricket closing its wings is to make you think the butterfly has disappeared in thin air.





The car park in Escorial, which sits fairly close to the foot of Monte Abantos, some hundred feet from a damn wall.


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