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Valle de los Caidos

Listed under Monuments & Landmarks in Madrid, Spain.

  • Photo of Valle de los Caidos
  • Photo of Valle de los Caidos
  • Photo of Valle de los Caidos
Photo of Valle de los Caidos
Photo by flickr user Raúl Arévalo
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The Valle de los Caidos is a monument to those who died in the Spanish Civil War, built on the orders of General Franco. The site includes an enormous domed basilica, carved out within the side of the valley and reachable only through a long, dimly lit entrance hall. Together with the strong lines of its neo-classical design, the monument’s grand scale and epic location give it a strong sense of militarism – a feeling that isn’t exactly eased by the imposing metal sculptures of faceless, sword-wielding angels who guard the entrance, nor by the staggering 152.4m tall stone cross – the biggest of its kind in the world. The result is a memorial which seems to celebrate military might as much as it commemorates the dead, an idea that sits rather uncomfortably with Franco’s claim that the building commemorates both Nationalist and Republican losses. Adding to this controversy is the fact that the monument was built by Republican prisoners. There has been talk of re-designating the basilica as a memorial to Spaniards killed in all conflicts. Its scale and austerity continue to impress visitors despite its controversial past.

Written by  Eleanor Dean.

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