The Valley of the Fallen, the monument that Spanish dictator Francisco Franco ordered built 75 years ago “with the goal of perpetuating the memory of those who fell in our glorious Crusade,” as the government’s Official Gazette described it at the time, is also Spain’s largest mass grave: under it lie 33,833 people, of whom only 21,423 have been identified.
This place is also the burial site of Franco, who died 40 years ago today.
The Valle de los Caídos, which contains the largest cross in the Catholic world (150 meters tall and 46.40 meters wide) is one of the most popular sites under management of Patrimonio Nacional, the national heritage trust: there were 240,837 visitors last year, putting it in third place after the Royal Palace in Madrid and the royal complexes of El Escorial and Aranjuez.
Inside the first hall of the basilica, which still officiates Mass every day, visitors come across a small, bright area enclosed in glass that stands out among the massive stone and marble structure around it.
This is the souvenir shop, the place where those 240,837 visitors will, it is hoped, pick up a memento before they leave the place where Franco and 33,832 other people lie buried.
These are some of the items on sale within:
Retro TV-shaped slide viewer