The Valley of the Fallen is a Catholic Basilica, an Abbey and a Monumental Complex.
The dictator Francisco Franco ordered it to be built (between 1940 and 1958) at the end of the Spanish Civil War, and it holds the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera and 33,833 combatants from both sides, hence its description as “the largest mass grave in Spain”.
It occupies a site of huge natural beauty in the Cuelgamuros Valley of the Guadarrama Mountains within the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in the Madrid region, 9.5 km to the north of the Royal Monastery. The design was provided by the architects Pedro Muguruza and Diego Méndez, while the sculptures are the work of Juan de Ávalos y Taboada and other artists. The tallest cross in the Christian world stands on the summit of the Risco de La Nava, 150 metres high with each arm measuring 24 metres.
When Franco died on 20 November 1975 he was buried at the foot of the main altar of the basilica. On 13 September 2018 the Spanish Congress of Deputies voted that his remains should be exhumed and removed from the basilica. The exhumation took place on 24 October 2019, and the remains were transferred to the Mingorrubio Cemetery.