Valle de los Caídos, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Madrid, Spain is home to a number of stunning monuments, but perhaps the most interesting and inspirational of these is the Valle de los Caídos. Spanish for the “Valley of the Fallen,” Valle de los Caídos is situated approximately 15 kilometers (8 miles) north of the renowned El Escorial and is one of the most popular tour destinations in the Spanish capital. Below we have compiled some details regarding the Valle de los Caídos, including its history, features and some important visitor information you need to know if planning to visit this landmark.

Valle de los Caídos: History, Features and Visitor Information

The Valle de los Caídos is a monument built into the face of a mountain in the Sierra de Guadarrama range. Construction of the complex commenced in 1940 and spanned 18 years until it was finally completed in 1958. The monument was erected to honor all those who perished on both sides during the Spanish Civil War, which took place between the years 1936 and 1939. Nearly 40,000 soldiers, Nationalist and Republican, are buried at the Valle de los Caídos, although the site is inexorably associated with the Franco regime. Not only did the late General order the construction of the monument, he is buried the complex’s Basilica.

Nearly half a million locals and tourists visit the Valle de los Caídos each year to explore its many features and remember the fallen. One of these features is a cross known as Risco de la Nava. The largest cross in the world, Risco de la Nava is built atop a rocky cliff at 1,400 meters above sea level. It was designed by the architect Diego Mendez and has a height of 492 feet (150 meters) from base to tip. The arms of the cross point north and south and span 154 feet (47 meters) from end to end. The base of the cross features four massive sculptures created by the artist Juan de Avalos, depicting the four Evangelists from the Bible: Saint Luke, shown with a bull; Saint John, with an eagle; Saint Mark, with a lion; and Saint Matthew, with a man. Tourists who wish to travel to the base of the cross can do so via a funicular railway that departs every 30 minutes.

The Basilica is another popular feature of the Valle de los Caídos. Excavated in rock, it features a long nave with six chapels devoted to the Virgin Mary. At the foot of the high altar are the graves of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Spanish Falange. It is decorated with a mosaic created by the artist Santiago Padros. A souvenir store adjacent to the Basilica sells postcards and other items, and Catholic masses are held at the church every day beginning at 11:00 AM.

The Valle de los Caídos is open year round to tourists beginning at 10:00 AM. During the colder months, October through March, the monument closes at 5:00 PM, but April through September guests are treated to an additional hour, with the monument closing at 6:00 PM. The entrance fee is 5 Euros for guests 12 and older and a ticket on the Funicular railway is 1.50 Euros per person.