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Juan de Herrera

Juan de Herrera Spanish architect

Spanish architect
Juan de Herrera
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Spanish architect
Is Architect Mathematician
From Spain
Type Engineering Mathematics
Gender male
Birth Cantabria
Death Madrid
Juan de Herrera
The details


Juan de Herrera (1530 – 15 January 1597) was a Spanish architect, mathematician and geometrician.
One of the most outstanding Spanish architects in the 16th century, Herrera represents the peak of the Renaissance in Spain. His sober style was fully developed in buildings like the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The Herrerian style was named after him, and was representative of the architecture of the Spanish Empire of Philip II and his Austrian successors.
As a Renaissance man, Herrera was interested in all the branches of knowledge of his times. His Discurso sobre la figura cúbica (Discussion of the Cubic form) tells us about his notable knowledge about geometry and mathematics. He also participated in the military campaigns of Charles V in Germany, Flanders and Italy.


Juan de Herrera completed his studies at the University of Valladolid in the spring of 1548. He started his architectural career in 1561 with the works in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, following it in 1562 with Libro del saber de astronomía (The Book of Astronomical Knowledge).

In 1563 he started to work under Juan Bautista de Toledo in the construction of El Escorial. After the death of de Toledo in 1567, Herrera became the director architect of the works, enlarging the plan, building the monumental western façade, the central Basilica and the pavilion of the Patio de los Evangelistas (Court of the Evangelists), and modifying the construction techniques and roofing. Stylistically, he changed the image of the façades and introducing his personal sober style. The main keys of his design are the impressive horizontal unified composition and the use of bare granite, omitting the classical orders for large surface. This style introduced in the monastery influenced Spanish architecture for over a century with the name of Herrerian style.

The plans of the Cathedral of Valladolid and the Archivo General de Indias were also designed by him. He was the original designer for the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

As instructed in his 1584 will, his sepulchre is located in the Church of San Juan Bautista, in Maliaño, Cantabria.

Main works

Segovia Bridge, in Madrid.
  • Palacio Real de Aranjuez (1561)
  • El Escorial (1563)
  • Palacio de El Quexigal (1563), building since disappeared, built in Robledo de Chavela (Madrid)
  • South Façade of the Alcázar de Toledo (1571–1585)
  • Casa Consistorial de Toledo (1575)
  • Puente de Segovia in Madrid (1582-1584)
  • Design of the Lonja de Sevilla, current Archivo de Indias (1583)
  • Valladolid Cathedral (1589)
  • Real Aposento de Torrelodones (1589), building since disappeared, built in Torrelodones.
  • Puerta de Triana (1588) (demolished). One of the gates of the Walls of Seville.

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