One of the most interesting places that I visited when I was in Spain was The Valley of the Fallen. It’s such a tranquil place with beautiful scenery and history. I really enjoyed this place because it’s a great place to learn about the Spanish Civil War. They also offer tours and walk you through the valley and explain in detail about this interesting place. One of the memories that I will never forget is when we were driving on the freeway, when I look towards the mountains I could see a giant cross all the way up in the distance. Our tour bus was pretty far and we still could see The Valley from the distance. Also, inside the Basilica, you will see Francisco Franco’s tomb where you can read a little about his history.
The Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) is located in the Sierra de Guadarrama about 8 miles north of El Escorcial, Spain. It was built between 1940 and 1958 and is a monument intended to commemorate all those who died on both sides during the Spanish Civil War. About 40,000 Nationalist and Republican soldiers are buried here. However, the Valley of the Fallen is associated with Franco’s regime since the late General is buried inside the basilica and he was the one who ordered its construction.
Built on top of a rocky cliff known as Risco de la Nava at 1,400 meters above sea level, the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen is the largest in the world. This enormous cross of granite was made by architect Diego Méndez, and it is (492 feet) including the base. Its arms are oriented north-south and are (154 feet) from fingertip to fingertip. On the base of the cross there are four colossal sculptures made by Juan de Ávalos depicting the four Evangelists.
The basilica was excavated in the rock and extends (860 feet) long with six chapels (three on each side) devoted to the Virgin Mary. At the foot of the high altar are the graves of Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish Falange. Above the crossing, a cupola some 40 meters in diameter is decorated with a mosaic by Santiago Padrós. There are religious services everyday in the basilica.
Once you arrive at the entrance gate, there are still about three miles uphill to the cross, so be ready to walk 🙂