Madrid’s Sad History

Today, I visited El Escorial: A beautiful town with a famous royal monastery built for King Philip II during the second half of the 16th century. Never have I seen so much marble and granite in my life! (Not even in Mom’s flooring store.)

El Escorial

El Escorial

I saw the bed and the room in which King Phillip II died. There’s a chapel where, back then, Mass was being celebrated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What a religious king! This place seriously has tombs galore. It seems like practically everyone who knew the king has their own tomb here. It’s a beautiful palace chalk-full of dead people.

There’s a HUGE library inside with very old books, religious and historical, written in many different languages- by far, the most impressive library I have ever set eyes on. All, or many, of the building’s ceilings have beautiful religious murals painted on them. Angels or saints are always looking down on you. Its fabulous.

The gardens outside are breathtaking. They’re literally mazes of beauty and I don’t see how a person could live here and NOT have a spiritual epiphany at some point.

The doors are huge and heavy and made out of fantastically hand-crafted wood. This is truly an inspirational place.

Later, we went to El Valle de los Caidos, Spanish for “Valley of the Fallen.” We visited the tomb of dictator Francisco Franco and it was an excellent opportunity to discuss the Spanish Civil War.

El Valle de los Caidos

El Valle de los Caidos

I have never felt as small and insignificant as I did while standing in his grand tomb, which he had built for himself while he was still well and alive.

He wasn’t allowed to be buried in El Escorial because he was not part of the Royal Family. He was a dictator. His name, still today, arouses hurt feelings and bad memories for many in Spain.

Many, many Spaniards died because of him and were literally buried, or built on top of, under his monument-tomb.

Franco’s army would celebrate Mass here with him every Sunday.

This place has all the lurking feelings of Fascism. It’s creepy and beautiful at the same time. Quite an odd feeling to experience.

MY ISA Group on the Steps of Franco's Memorial-Tomb

My group at Franco's memorial-tomb

Original journal entry Sunday, September 2, 2007

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Filed under European History, Spain

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