Built into the mountains north of Madrid, Spain's Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) is a memorial to those who died in the Spanish Civil War. Erected by Nationalist leader Francisco Franco, the sight has been steeped in controversy. The somber attraction is known for its ziggurat-like facade, vaulted crypt, and granite cross.
Particularly popular among history enthusiasts, the Valley of the Fallen is an easy day trip from Madrid, with many travelers booking a regional sightseeing tour to avoid the hassle of navigating public transit. Both private and group tours typically offer guides and transportation on the roughy hour-long drive from Madrid. Visitors that want to see more can book tours that include a stop at the nearby Escorial Monastery.
Things to Know Before You Go
History enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Valley of the Fallen—it commemorates the Spanish Civil War and is the site of Franco's crypt.
Architecture enthusiasts appreciate the basilica and crypt, inspired by 16th century Spanish design.
First-time visitors should should consider a tour, since the sight is a good distance from Madrid's city center and transit options are limited.
Private tours typically provide hotel pickup and drop-off and may include lunch.
How to Get There
Visitors that don't want to book a tour can travel to the Valley of the Fallen independently, using the 664 bus from the Moncloa interchange in Madrid. Buses run frequently during the week. After you arrive, find a second bus that runs directly to the monument, once daily, from the San Lorenzo de El Escorial bus station. Since this bus has a limited schedule, confirm departure times before your visit.
When to Get There
Valley of the Fallen is open from Tuesday to Sunday, and closed on Mondays, and hours vary by season with extended hours from April to September. Though there's no bad time to visit, plan to arrive during the week to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more personal experience at the memorial.
Visiting the Nearby Monasterio del Escorial
Visitors find a historical residence of the King of Spain, the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a short drive from the Valley of the Fallen. This late-16th century complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site—known commonly as Monasterio del Escorial—includes a church, monastery, palace, and library. Advance tickets are available, and tours from Madrid often include entry to the sight.