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Day Trip to Valle de los Caidos
Winter (October to March) - 10:00-19:00H, closed Monday.
Summer (April to September) - 10:00-18:00H, closed Monday.
Bus 661 from Moncloa interchange (Metro and Bus station) every 15-30 minutes from 07:00 - 23:30H (reduced schedule on weekends) at a cost of €2.50 each way. Last return at 22:30H and journey time is no about 1hour, depending on traffic.
From El Escorial:
Línea 660 at the Plaza de la Virgen de Gracia (Autocares Herranz).
The buses from Madrid and El Escorial drop one at the Cruce de Cuelgamuros stop, which is the entrance gate. There are still about 4.8 km uphill to the cross. The best way to go is to take a tour with a company that will bring one to the actual basilica.
The Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) is one of the Madrid area's more famous tourist attractions and in 2008 it received about 300,000 visitors. It is located 13 km north of El Escorial and 45 km north of Madrid. The basilica is called the Santa Cruz Basilica and it was carved out of the rock. The monument is located in the Cuelgamuros Valley. The designers of the monument were Pedro Muguruza and Diego Mendez. The style is Neo-Herrerian, named after the architect Juan de Herrera, who designed the palace of El Escorial.
The basilica is huge and is 262 meters long and consists of a nave with six chapels, three on each side, that are used for the devotion to the Virgin Mary. It is second in size to St. Peter's in Rome. It has a cupola that is 40 meters in diameter and this cupola has a mosaic done by the artist Santiago Padros. The main altar has the graves of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera (the founder of the Falange Party who died in 1936) and Francisco Franco (who died in 1975). The basilica's full name is the Basílica de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos (Basilica of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen). At the entrance to the basilica are two large Art Deco angels holding swords. The wrought iron gates are decorated with the design of a double-headed eagle.
The cross was built on top of a cliff and is called the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen. It is 150 meters high and its arms have a width of 47 meters. This is the biggest cross in the world. The architect of this granite structure was Diego Mendez. At the base of the cross there are four huge sculptures of the four Evangelists, and these were made by the sculptor Juan de Avalos. The four sculptures are of Saint Matthew with a man, Saint Luke with a bull, Saint Mark with a lion, and Saint John with an eagle.
On the other side of the mountain is a Benedictine abbey, the Abbey of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen (Abadía Benedictina de la Santa Cruz de el Valle de los Caídos), and this houses the priests who pray for the repose of the dead.
The monument was ordered built by the dictator Francisco Franco between 1940 and 1956. He wanted it to honor the men and women who fell during the Spanish Civil War. Under the basilica, there are remains of 40,000 people, from both the Nationalist and the Republican sides of the war. What was and is controversial about the monument is that Franco used Republican prisoners of the war to build the monument. For many Spanish, this monument only brings sad memories.
Visitors should not come here on Nov. 20, because the Fascists come here to honor Franco, and there has been trouble in the past.