Spain: Madrid

Madrid Travel Blog

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view of the Valley of the Fallen

It was early in the morning when we hopped on the coach bus for a 45-minute drive out of Madrid to the Valley of the Fallen.
The Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caidos) is located in the Sierra Guadarrama. Built between the 1940 and 1960, it was constructed by the orders of the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco. It is also his burial place along with about 40, 000 Nationalist and Republican soldiers who died from both sides during the Spanish Civil War between 1936-1939.

The main entrance to the basilica is located on the east side in the big esplanade. The basilica was excavated in the rock and extends along a 262-meter (860 feet) long nave with six chapels (three on each side) devoted to the Virgin Mary. It is said to be larger than St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, technically, if measured from the main entrance to the very end of the altar nave, breaking the law of the Roman Catholic Church as there is supposed to be no church built bigger than St.

Valley of the Fallen
Peter's Basilica. At the foot of the high altar are the graves of Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish Falang. Above the crossing, a cupola some 40 meters in diameter is decorated with a mosaic by Santiago Padrós. There are 2 masses conducted in Spanish daily. We were lucky enough to arrive there right before the 11am mass began and we were treated to a heavenly performance of their choir. This basilica has fantastic acoustics!

Outside the basilica is the imposing cross built on the rocky cliff known as Risco de la Nava. Designed and made by architect Diego Méndez, this enormous cross consists of granite. On the base of the cross are four colossal sculptures made by Juan de Ávalos depicting the four Evangelists: St. Luke with a bull, St. John with an eagle, St. Mark with a lion, and St. Matthew with a man. The Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen is the largest in the world.

Next: The Royal Palace of Madrid
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Valley of the Fallen
The Royal Palace of Madrid was our next stop after visiting the Valley of the Fallen.

This Royal Palace like many European palaces were adorned with gold, marble, countless of artworks and portraits. One thing that stood out in this royal palace was its vast collection of chandeliers! They were fantastic! I love them so much I took tons of pictures of the various chandeliers we saw as we went from room to room in the palace.
 There were two rooms that I love the most in the Roya Palace of Madrid - one is not so surprising - the Throne Room! With walls covered in dark red-maroonish (I am not good at determining colors) with gold throne seats and those lions at the foot of the throne, they were imposing and very regal, indeed! Compared to other royal palaces I've visited during my travels, this throne room felt distinctively very Spanish! Maybe it was the regal red motif? The other room that I loved in the palace was the massive dining room that contained over 12 chandeliers! Why? Well, because of the chandeliers, of course!

After the Palace, we headed to the Prado Museum - a must-see place when visiting Madrid.
Valley of the Fallen
I liked their exhibit but like everyone else, we were drawn to one of Velasquez famous painting, if not the most famous one, Las Meninas. I bought a large print for myself and one for my friend's mom who didn't get the chance to buy one for herself when she visited the museum the summer before.

After the Prado Museum, we walked to Plaza Mayor. Every Spanish city has a Plaza Mayor but Madrid's Plaza Mayor is, I guess, the grandest of them all. Along the way, we stopped at a few souvenir shops  to buy postcards. I'm a postcard nut! Everywhere I go, I buy postcards and mail them to all my friends and family! Before we headed back to our hotel, we stopped for a little merienda (snack)  - what else but churros con chocolate! Yum yum!

My overall impression of Madrid? Well, I thought it was an okay city.
Valley of the Fallen: main entrance
I was not overly impress. It felt too metropolitan amids the tall corporate buildings. The food were good - the tapas and the wine were great! The nightlife was good as well. Since I was from New York City, it didn't impress me much. I did like the salsa bar we went to that night. It made me wish I was good at dancing salsa. I made an attempt, was pretty decent for a beginner but there were too many twirling that I got dizzy easily! =( And getting proposition at the club we went to after the salsa bar was a little unnerving. That was my first introduction to aggressive Spanish guys and definitely not the last. I still had 10 more days left in this country!

Next stop: the medieval town of Toledo and a night in Cordoba!
Isabetlog says:
Hey Jennifer, thanks for blogging about Madrid! I lived there some 20 years ago, and as usual when you're campante and think you have all the time in the world, didn't end up going around! :(

But you're absolutely right. Maganda ang Madrid pero hindi sya kasing ganda ng ibang syudad sa bansang yun -- tinatagalog ko kasi baka may ibang tiga duon na makabasa at di magustuhan sinasabi ko hehe. Nasasapawan ng mga bagong buildings yung mga luma sa dami....
Posted on: Mar 06, 2008
view of the Valley of the Fallen
view of the Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen
Valley of the Fallen: main entrance
Valley of the Fallen: main entrance
Valley of the Fallen: grave of Fra…
Valley of the Fallen: grave of Fr…
Valley of the Fallen: grave of Jos…
Valley of the Fallen: grave of Jo…
Valley of the Fallen: view from th…
Valley of the Fallen: view from t…
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid: Throne…
The Royal Palace of Madrid: Thron…
Valley of the Fallen: altar and na…
Valley of the Fallen: altar and n…
The Royal Palace of Madrid: corner…
The Royal Palace of Madrid: corne…
Valley of the Fallen: mosaic by Sa…
Valley of the Fallen: mosaic by S…
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid: massiv…
The Royal Palace of Madrid: massi…
The Royal Palace of Madrid: Royal …
The Royal Palace of Madrid: Royal…
The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
Chocolate!
Chocolate!
Madrid
photo by: vulindlela