General Introduction

Valley of the Fallen, inaugurated by Francisco Franco in 1959, rests in the Cuelgamuros Valley outside of Madrid. Its structure boasts of a cross 150 m high, a crypt 262 m into the mountain, and a dome 33 m in diameter. Several common graves, both of Republican and Nationalist soldiers, lie beside the bodies of Franco and the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera. Catholic Masses take place here every Sunday as there is a Benedictine Abbey on the other side of the cross as the entrance to the crypt.

 

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The Valley is dedicated to everyone who died in the Spanish Civil War, but in reality, the monument is more one-sided than it claims to be. It is covered in Falangist symbols and slogans, and is the final resting place of two of the greatest champions of Nationalist Spain. Every November 20th before the Law of Historical Memory was enacted, there were memorial celebrations commemorating the deaths of these two leaders.

The Law of Historical Memory seeks–however polemically– to address the ideological bias present in this place of remembrance, a site ostensibly constructed in the name of all the war´s fallen. No longer are the celebrations of November 20th allowed, nor are any pro-Franco symbols or flags. For many observers, these measures–rather than resolving ideological tensions–have fanned the flames of controversy and heightened the debate that surrounds the Valley of the Fallen as a long-contested site of national memory .

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