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
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.
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.
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