Valley of the Fallen
On April 1 1940 Spanish Dictator Franco signed the decree for the construction of the Valle de los Caídos, where “a Basilica, Monastery and Youth Quarters were to be raised to perpetuate the memory of the fallen in our Glorious Crusade”. The Valley required nineteen years of construction, two architects, and the hollowing out of a granite mountain to excavate a basilica which is surpassed in length and size only by Saint Peter’s in Rome. It was inaugurated on April 1st 1959 on the twentieth anniversary of the military victory. Francisco Franco was buried there in November 1975.
As a new wave of exhumations started in 2000, the Valle de los Caídos was placed on the radar of public debate. More recently, a new law of democratic memory, yet to be passed, envisages a profound resignification of the Valley. The exhumation of Franco from the Valle de los Caídos in October 2019 could be considered the first movement for a project of transforming the place into a site of democratic memory.