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Earlier this year, the socialist opposition party PSOE put forward a resolution for the removal of his remains from this basilica, and the launch of a new truth commission into his regime.
It was rejected by the conservative People’s Party, leaders of the current ruling coalition, on the grounds that it might “stress and divide the nation”.
Then into the edifice itself, reminiscent of Hitler’s building planner Albert Speer.
Then through the airport-style security gate, and past the militaristic icons and apocalyptic tapestries that decorate the interior – statues of angels with swords, images of the beast and the false prophet, chapels for the patron saints of the army, navy and air force.
Security is tighter than it used to be at this vast and divisive monument to the Spanish Civil War, located an hour's drive north-west of Madrid.
The site was bombed by Maoist anti-fascists as recently as 1999.
Today, it stands as Spain’s most sombre tourist attraction.
The vaulted crypt below was bored into the mountain as part of the construction – which took almost two decades across the 1940s and 50s. The Civil War was not long over and WWII was well underway when the Generalissimo commissioned what he called “a national act of atonement”. A mountain altar for arcane rituals, or human sacrifices.
Designers Pedro Muguruza and Diego Mendez were ordered to create a quasi-mythic space that would resonate with “the grandeur of monuments of old, which defy time and memory.” They revived the sepulchral style of 16th-century Spanish architect Juan de Herrera, while the centrepiece resembles the ancient rock crosses raised by early Christians around Kerala in the first century A. But driving up from the main gate, along the winding access road that leads through thick pine forest and over worn stone bridges, the complex comes to look like something even older and weirder. Even those who don’t subscribe to the theory of psycho-geography might start to feel a spooky twitching in their compass on approach.
You can see the place from miles out on the A-6 motorway.
A huge granite cross rises straight up from the rock of the Sierra de Guadarrama, with a colossal esplanade carved out to make a platform for the basilica beneath.
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