Just 15 kilometers away from El Escorial is Valle de Los Caidos. Literally translated to “Valley of the Fallen”, this memorial is as different to Escorial as black is to white. The latter is a monument to Spanish fascism. Think Generalissimo Franco.

 

 

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This is the world’s largest free standing cross. Built upon orders of Generalissimo Franco in the 1940s with labor from prisoners as many as 20,000, the structure houses an underground tomb which includes Franco himself. The memorial was erected in memory of the sacrifices made by the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Our Tour Guide reminded us to refrain from making any political remarks in this monument as Franco is both loved and hated in this part of the world.

 

 

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Frankly, I initially felt like I was walking inside a bomb shelter as I made my way in. Of course the murals and interior decor vanished that ridiculous thought almost instantly. But I was surprised to find a tomb in the name of Jose Antonio just before the altar, right across Franco’s. Who is Jose Antonio?

 

 

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I didn’t stay very long inside. Felt kind of claustrophobic , if you ask me. I was glad to be out breathing the mountain air and appreciating the view. Then a question popped in my mind — but no….. I’m on holiday. No political concerns whatsoever. ๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜œ

 

 

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