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Aranjuez-Chinchón Route through Segovia Alcalá de Henares
El Escorial Toledo Valle de los Caídos
Some distractions

Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen)


Taking advantage of our visit to the Monasterio del Escorial, we can make a visit to a grandiose funerary monument built between 1940 and 1956 in memory of the victims of the Civil War of 1936.

A lovely, solitary valley was chosen for its location. It stands in the mountains of Guadarrama, in a landscape formed by granite rock and green pines.

It is located some 13 Km north of El Escorial, dominating the surrounding landscape.

The site, known before as Cuelgamuros, it is denominated the Valle de los Caídos/ Valley of the Fallen. It is interesting as much for its surroundings as for the monument's complex that can be admired.

It is formed by an imposing stone Cross some 150 meters tall and with arms reaching some 46 meters wide.

It rises over a basilica that was carved 250 m into rock by Republican prisoners of war, some dying in the 16 years that it took to build.
Many Spaniards consider it a symbol of the dictatorship and therefore, it has been shunned by many tourists. Nevertheless, the magnificence of its views and the monument itself make a visit highly recommendable.

The architects Pedro Muguruza and Diego Méndez took part in the project, while the part of the sculpture was designed and completed by Juan de Ávalos, who crafted the 18-meter-high stone figures which decorate the base of the Cross. These can be accessed by way of a funicular and the Piedad ensemble over the portal of the basilica can be reached by a great stairway.

The inside of this 262-meter-long Basilica de la Santa Cruz consists of a vestibule, an atrium and a bronze railing, decorated with 40 statues of saints, which give way to the nave containing six side chapels dedicated to different evocations of the Virgin. Over each one of the arches that open to each chapel, an image in alabaster can be found. In the spaces between these hang eight tapestries, which illustrate images of the Apocalypse.

The structure of the basilica is made of an open crossing with a dome decorated with mosaics and a crypt carved out of the same rock. Here, the main altar stands.

Next to this is the white headstone that covers the tomb of Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain from 1936 to his death in the 1970s; in front stands the headstone of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Spanish phalanx. Hidden from the public are also the 40,000 tombs of the soldiers of the warring factions of the Civil War.

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