The Valley of Cuelgamuros, history and context

A new memorial framework for Francoist’s main monument

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Keys to interpret The Valley

The Valle de los Caídos – or Valley of the Fallen – is the major monument from Francoist Spain. Commissioned by Francisco Franco to celebrate his military victory and to house the bodies of the victors of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), it took some nineteen years to build. Penal labour was largely used for the construction process. The site was officially opened by the Spanish dictator on 1 April 1959, as part of the commemorations for the twentieth anniversary of his victory. It was, from the outset, only a memorial to the winners of the war.

Democratic memory

This website proposes a new look at the Cuelgamuros monument, based on the analysis of its architectural, religious, patrimonial, funerary and political history. Resignifying the monument in a framework of democratic memory requires explaining it as a complex and contradictory process that modulates and changes in relation to the historical and political context that surrounds it. El Valle is a monument commissioned by the dictator Francisco Franco that crystallizes the war (1936-1939) and the dictatorship (1939-1975) from the point of view of the victors. Comparison with other memorial sites around the world allows for a more sophisticated and comprehensive interpretation of the site.


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RecognitionEl Valle is a civil cemetery that challenges all victims of war and repression within a framework of human rights

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InvestigationDeciphering the keys to the Valley in all its ramifications requires the combined work of specialists from various disciplines

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PedagogyThe Valley serves to make visitors aware, in a broad sense, of what happened in Spain after the coup d'état of 1936

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MemoryThe monument becomes a fundamental tool for critical reflection on the war and the dictatorship