The Valley of the Fallen, is a Catholic basilica and a monumental memorial in the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, erected at Cuelgamuros Valley in the Sierra de Guadarrama, near Madrid. Dictator Francisco Franco claimed that the monument was meant to be a “national act of atonement” and reconciliation.
It served as the burial place of Franco’s remains from his death in November 1975 until his exhumation on 24 October 2019, as a result of efforts to remove all public veneration of his dictatorship, and following a long legal process.
The monument precinct covers over 3,360 acres (13.6 km2) of Mediterranean woodlands and granite boulders on the Sierra de Guadarrama hills, more than 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level and includes a basilica, a Benedictine abbey, a guest house, the Valley, and the Juanelos — four cylindrical monoliths dating from the 16th century.
The most prominent feature of the monument is the towering 150-metre-high (500 ft) Christian cross, the tallest such cross in the world, erected over a granite outcrop 150 metres over the basilica esplanade and visible from over 20 miles (32 km) away.
Work started in 1940 and took over eighteen years to complete, with the monument being officially inaugurated on 1 April 1959. According to the official ledger, the cost of the construction totalled 1,159 million pesetas, funded through national lottery draws and donations.