THE VALLEY OF THE FALLEN
The Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen.
The Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) is located in the Sierra de Guadarrama some 8 miles north of El Escorial.
The complex 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 (1936-1939).
About 40,000 Nationalist and Republican soldiers are buried here.
However, the Valley of the Fallen is inevitably associated with Franco's regime since the late General is buried inside the basilica and he was the one who ordered its construction.
Nevertheless, it is an impressive place that was visited by about 450,000 people in 2005.
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 150 meters high (492 feet) including the base.
Its arms are oriented north-south and have a width of 47 meters (154 feet) from fingertip to fingertip.
From the big esplanade below to the top of the cross there are 300 meters (984 feet).
On the base of the cross there are four colossal sculptures (18 meters high) made by Juan de Ávalos (1911-2006) depicting the four Evangelists:
- Saint Luke with a bull.
- Saint John with an eagle.
- Saint Mark with a lion.
- Saint Matthew with a man.
The overall weight of the cross including its base is approximately 200,000 metric tons.
The base of the cross can be accessed by a funicular railway that departs every 30 minutes.
The main entrance to the basilica is located on the east side in the big esplanade that has a surface of 30,600 m².
The basilica was excavated in the rock and extends along a 262-meter (860 feet) long nave 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 at 1100-1145 hours.
Photographing inside the basilica is permitted but flashes must be turned off.
There is also a souvenir store at the entrance inside the basilica, with postcards, books, mugs, etc.
Visiting the Valley of the Fallen. How to get to the Valley of the Fallen.
The Valley of the Fallen can be reached from Madrid by bus from the Moncloa Interchange.
The buses of the line 664 (Autocares Herranz) take you to the entrance gate of the Valley in about 45 minutes (Cruce de Cuelgamuros stop).
Also, from the bus station in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, line 660 takes you to the Cruce de Cuelgamuros as well.
Once you arrive at the entrance gate, there are still about three miles uphill to the cross, so unless someone is kind enough to give you a ride, be ready to walk.
It's best to go by road either in your own car or by renting one.
From Madrid take the A-6 Highway and then the exit to the M-600.
October-March: From 10:00 am to 17:00 pm.
April-September: From 10:00 am to 18:00 pm.
Entrance fees: 5.00 Euros.
Funicular railway: 1.50 Euros.
Wednesdays: Free entrance for EU Citizens.
Telephones: (+34) 91 890 56 11 and (+34) 91 890 13 98
Valley of the Fallen Accommodation
Hospedería Santa Cruz - Hospedería Santa Cruz. Valle de los Caídos S/N.