Cocheras del Rey - Collection

This exhibition takes place in the remaining part of the original site of Cocheras (the Old Royal Coach House) and aims to show the history, activities and development of the old buildings at the service of the Royal Family for the century, since they were built in 1771 until the second half of the XIX century, when after the Peninsular War some of those buildings were very much rundown and, at the same time, became useless as the new transport and communication network developed. The exhibition includes the courtyard, porch, gallery, then up the main staircase to the first floor of the most important original building that still exists, having been restored to its former glory.This unique setting, exhibits, drawings and explanations take us back, enthralled, to the old times when the only way to transport people, merchandise and messages was using animals. At this came to an end when the first steam engine arrived at El Escorial (1861), the postage stamp came into use (1850) and the beginning of the telegraph, telephone and the automotive era.

The exhibition area is divided in VIII Sections:
I. NewsNoticias
II. Journeys and routesCaminos y Recorridos
III. Coming to a HaltParada y Estacionamiento
IV. Vehicles and equipmentVehículos y Dotaciones
V. Skilled workers needed for a journeyOficios del Viaje
VI. Packing and unpackingEmbalaje y Desembalaje de equipajes
VII. Processions and walksComitivas y Paseos
VIII. Woodlands and huntingBosques y Caza


Passengers could get all information needed for the journey, price of transport, luggage and merchandise, layout of the land, distance between places, etc. through books, laws and by-laws, the press, post and later through the telegraph. Maps and plans were very useful but not very reliable as the trigonometrical studies were not applied.

Up to the XVIII, at home and abroad, there were many different units to measure weight, volume and longitude according to the district or town, with caused many problems in commercial transactions. Here we have on show several instruments to measure longitude (compasses, rulers, tape measures, Spanish yardstick, etc.) weight (dishes scales or trutine, Roman scales or statera, platform scales, etc.); volume (wooden boxes, measuring metal containers).

The cons were: gold coins or doubloons; divided into escudos; silver coins or reals, divided into pesos duro, pesetas and reals; and cooper coins. Royal bonds and bank notes came into use for the first time in Spain during the XVIII century.


Travelling by horse-drawn carriage was so gruelling that postillions and horses had to be changed every six to nine miles. Soon the organized regular services with a relay system for transporting passengers and mail, which was the beginning of the public transport and postal service. So the stagecoach was born. Between Madrid and El Escorial there were Relay Houses some of which could also be used as a Post Office. The importance of these Relay Houses in the development of the Spanish Postal system can be seen in the fact that Madrid’s main square Puerta del Sol or the Old Post Office are the Zero Mark of both roads and postal Spanish system.

The routes to get to El Escorial have changed since Monastery was built. Felipe II used to travel through Torrelodones and Toledo but during the reign of Carlos III the roads through Guadarrama or Galapagar became more popular.


Carlos II, the last Spanish king of Austrian descendant, commissioned his architect, del Olmo, the building of Caballerizas (the Royal Stables). Carlos III asked Juan Esteban to build Cocheras (the Royal Coach House) on the site we are standing now, surrounded by the streets calle del Rey, calle Patriarca, calle Loteria, Calle Clavario and calle Camino a Guadarrama. After the Peninsular War the Caballerizas were badly rundown and what could be saved was transferred to the grounds of Cocheras, both being together since the middle of the XIX century. After the acts of Freedom from Mortmain part of it was sold to private hands to build private homes. The rest remained as Royal Patrimony and 1931 was handed over to San Lorenzo de El Escorial County Council which used it as a State School. In 1974 it was demolished by the Country Council and rebuilt as the new school we see today.

Luckily the part of Cocheras that remained in private hands survived till the present day, being the site where we are standing today holding this exhibitions, having been restored to its former glory by private enterprise. We hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate ask us. We will be happy to help you and make you feel at home here.


There were different kinds of vehicles, essentially the coach (for passengers) and the cart (for loads and merchandise) which kept on developing according to their use. The coach appeared for the first time in Spain in the XVI century. During the XVII century it was very much in use, especially in Madrid, and in the XVIII century it was extensively used in the whole of Spain. The coach consisted of a carriage, a mechanical structure and harness and could be built with two or four wheels. We have on show different kinds of carriages: private covered coaches (a tartan, a berlin and a coupe-berlin); public covered coaches (an omnibus, a stage coach and a hearse); typical open carriages (a calash, a chaise, a tonneau, a charrete) and two public covered coaches (an omnibus, a stage coach and a hearse). We also have a sleigh, two sedan chars and an Italian polychrome cart from the XIX century. Lastly we have a splendid collection of saddles of different types and times like sidesaddles, children saddles, Spanish saddles, French saddles, Portuguese saddles, English saddles, Arab saddles…


To organize a journey many people and skilled workers had to be involved to make sure that everything would go smoothly. The roads, carriages and harness were taken care of by experts on carriages, drivers, painters, tinsmiths, decorators, gilders, glass cutters, saddle and harness makers, locksmiths, varnishes, etc. Farriers and veterinarians looked after the horses. Coach-drivers, grooms, postillions, teamsters and cartwrights were responsible for the success of the journey, etc…

The Caballerizas had a very complicated organization under the command of the Caballerizo Mayor, who was responsible for the good condition of the arms and to organize journeys and hunting expeditions for the Royal Family. Under the Caballerizo Mayor were the Primer Caballerizo (aid-de-champ), stewards, assistant, stable boys, a barber or bloodletter (who looked after the health of the workers) and the administrator or caretaker (who took care of the accounts).


Passengers travelling by coach could only take with them personal and light luggage. Their heavy and big belongings were sent by separate carriages. In exhibition there are a great variety of boxes and containers to hold all kind of things from pieces of furniture and hunting instruments to religious objects and ornaments.

There are also on show several unpacked household goods and pieces of furniture brought to the place for the comfort of the courtiers during their long stay in El Escorial through the autumn season.

The locksmith in the workshop of Cocheras was responsible for the security of luggage, boxes and carriages. There are very interesting exhibits of locks, padlocks and iron fitting from the XVI to the XIX century, an original XVIII century lock of the Coliseo Theater and its key of three turns, called “llave del Rey” (key of the king).


A walk is a relaxing outing to a public spot just for pleasure. A procession is an organized outing to celebrate, represent or accompany somebody or something. The most important `processions were a triumphal entry, a masquerade and a funeral.

Funerals in El Escorial were especially important after Felipe II built the Monastery with the Real Panteón (The Royal Pantheon). When a member of the Royal Family died there was in place an organization and protocol to arrange the procession of members of the Royal Family, courtiers, attendants, escort, members of the clergy to accompany the coffin to the Monastery. The protocol remained unchanged for many years until the XIX century when it has to be slightly altered as the coffin of Alfonso XII was brought to El Escorial from Madrid by train.


Since the Monastery was built the woodlands of El Escorial were magnificent meadows with large stretches of marsh land and very especial fauna and flora. Later on the lands surrounding the Monastery were declared a Royal Hunting Ground and was fenced all around. To get access there were ten gates. The main gate was called “El Tercio” next to the bridge of the same name. The whole of the Royal Woodlands or Royal Hunting Ground was made up by the following meadows: Campillo y Monasterio, Castañar, Herrería, Freneda o Granjilla, Radas, Ermitaños, Cuelgamuros, Cuarto Carretero, Zorreras and Milanillo.

Carlos III was a very keen hunting man and regardless of the weather he was out hunting every day as a treatment for his neurosis and to help him to forget his problems. His hunting expeditions required several carriages drawn by mules in relay, needing two hundred of them a day. The game was numerous, at a time the recorded up to 16000, deer, wild boards, wild pigs, rabbits, hares and foxes. You can see several cynegetic exhibits: hunting dog’s collar, trap, horus, cornemuses, and a collection of pistols and guns.