Franco monument to receive €215K restoration

The controversial 'Valley of the Fallen' basilica, erected by General Franco using political prisoners as workers, is to have its facade restored at a cost of €215,000.

Franco monument to receive €215K restoration
The site is the location of the tombs of former dictator Franco and Falange founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera. Photo: Flickr/Neticola

The Ministry of the Presidency announced on Monday that a tender offer had been accepted for restoration work on the Basilica of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen.

A contract worth €214,847 was awarded by the Board of Directors of National Heritage to the Javier Herran construction company.

It has been dated July 18th, the day that Civil War broke out in Spain in 1936.

A policy instituted by the 2004-2011 socialist government led to the removal of Francoist symbols from public spaces in Spain but the Valley has remained under the protection of Spain's National Heritage authority.

It is the site of Franco's tomb but political rallies in the Valley support of the former dictator have been banned since 2007.

Falange founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera is also interred in the Santa Cruz basilica.

The 152.4-metre-high memorial cross of the basilica is the tallest in the world.


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Spain to exhume bodies of civil war victims at Valley of the Fallen

The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a special fund to exhume graves at the Valley of the Fallen, where thousands of victims of the Spanish Civil War and dictator Francisco Franco are buried.

Spain to exhume bodies of civil war victims at Valley of the Fallen
Women hold up pictures of their fathers and relatives, who were condemned to death during Franco’s dictatorship. Photo: OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP

The Socialist government said it had set aside €665,000 ($780,000) to exhume some 33,000 victims whose remains lie behind a vast basilica near Madrid.

Franco was buried in the basilica when he died in 1975 but his remains were removed in 2019 and transferred to a discreet family plot on the outskirts of the capital.

Government spokesperson Maria Jesus Montera told reporters that more than 60 families and international institutions had called for the exhumation of the victims to give relatives who suffered during the civil war and Franco’s dictatorship “moral reparation”.

Campaigners estimate more than 100,000 victims from the war and its aftermath remain buried in unmarked graves across Spain —- a figure, according to Amnesty International, only exceeded by Cambodia.

Human remains discovered during exhumation works carried out by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory of Valladolid, in a mass grave where the bodies of hundreds of people were dumped during the Spanish civil war. Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP

Built between 1940 and 1958 partly by the forced labour of political prisoners, the imposing basilica and the mausoleum of the Valley of the Fallen was initially intended for those who had fought for Franco.

But in 1959 the remains of many Republican opponents were moved there from cemeteries and mass graves across the country without their families being informed.

The crypts and ossuaries where some of the victims are buried are inaccessible as they were walled off at the time.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has made the rehabilitation of the victims of the Franco era one of his priorities since coming to power in 2018.

As well as the Valley of the Fallen, his government is also focusing on identifying remains founds in mass graves across Spain.