The Valley of the Fallen (El Valle de los Caídos)

begun in the early 1940's; completed in 1959




The monument is an underground church and tomb topped with a 500 foot stone cross, which can be seen from a distance of 30 miles. Although supposedly honoring all the dead in the Spanish Civil war, only two names are commemorated, those of General Francisco Franco and of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange (and safely dead before the mausoleum was started). Most critics see this gargantuan memorial, not as a mode of post-civil war reconciliation, but rather of Fascist theatricality. And we are often reminded that prisoners on the Republican side, many of whom lost their lives in the process, were forced to quarry this huge cavern out of the rock. Sculptures were designed by Juan de Avalos.
 

The central entrance

 

The colonnades defining the arc of the plaza

The monumental quality of this memorial is created by the use of a huge plaza, tall colonnades arcing on each side, and a grand central entrance.
 

The colonnade

Typically, Fascist architect has as it goal the diminishment of the ordinarily human (note how the scale of the architecture dwarfs the people) and the aggrandizement of the megalomaniac dictator.
 
 

The interior

The interior is one long converging tunnel (technically a basilica) ending at the tomb of the dictator who ordered its construction.



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© 2002 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

Page maintained by Mary Ann Sullivan, sullivanm@bluffton.edu