Have you been to the much talked-about and even maligned Valle de los Caidos? This gargantuan monument near Madrid, built at the time of Francisco Franco, is controversial as it has created a division in the Spanish political world. It was intended to represent of reconciliation among all quarters in the country, but still, many despise the monument because for them, it is the prime symbol of the Francoist regime. Hated or not, it is clearly one of the most important monuments here in Spain, and must be visited if only for its rich and hotly debated history.
One of most noticeable in the site is the basilica, composing of 6 chapels, all of which are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mother. Here you will find the place where Fransisco Franco and Falange founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera are buried – by the main altar. A mass is celebrated every day in the basilica from 11:00 to 11:45.
We are still far from the Valle de los Caidos, but already, the gigantic cross, can already visible. It is the most conspicuous monument in the site, which is understable as the cross is the largest in the world. In fact, it can be seen from as far as 30 miles away. It is certainly a magnificent sight, and an assurance that more amazing things can be expected as soon as we arrived at the site.
A structure made of the finest concrete and metal to ensure utmost stability and strength, it stands tall at 150 meters, with 25 meters comprising the basement bearing the four evangelists John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. Each of the representation is 18 meters high and a creation of Juan de Ávalos.
Franco declared the basilica, which is a surviving symbol under his rule, to be a symbol that signifies the national act of reconciliation and atonement.
A bit of history
Valle de los Caidos, or the Valley of the Fallen, is a monument constructed in honor of all those who perished during the Spanish Civil War. It was a major project of Franco, the Spanish ruler at the time that the war happened
It was said that many of those who helped build the basilica were convicted criminals. They agreed to be part of the workforce because of an attractive compensation, which is, a reduction of the years they needed to be in prison.
Hence, while the monument was meant to serve as a resting place for the fallen soldiers, but it was said that those who perished during its construction were also buried there.
Travel by bus from Madrid
Take a trip to the Valle de los Caidos via Autocares Herranz Numero 664, stationed at the Moncloa Interchange. The ride will bring you right by the huge gates of the monument’s Parada Cruce Cuelgamuros. From there, you will have to endure almost an hour of uphill walk. It is why it is convenient to go to the site using a private vehicle.
If you don’t have a ride, and wouldn’t want to walk up to the monument, a good option is to schedule your trip around lunch time and start at the San Lorenzo, where available is a C660A line that leaves for the basilica at around 3:15 in the afternoon. It is a single trip to the Valley of the Fallen, and available all days of the week except Monday. Hence, so make sure that you are on time. The same bus returns to its station two hours later.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial Municipalidad , Sierra de Guadarrama
Schedule of Visit
October to March: 10AM to 5PM
April to September: 10AM to 6PM