Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Tamara Van Dyken (Director), Marko Dumančić, and Marc Eagle

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains of Spain in northwest Madrid is The Valley of the Fallen, (El Valle de los Caídos). This Spanish Civil War monument was originally constructed in 1940 as a celebration of the fascist victory of the war over the radical leftist republicanos. The monument made clear the Catholic ties that dictator Francisco Franco’s regime planned to uphold through its religious spaces such as an abbey and basilica. Since the monument’s construction and into the present day, the public eye has mainly associated the Valley of the Fallen with the Francoist dictatorship. However, this paper argues that analyzing the Valley of the Fallen from a religious perspective can help historians to better understand Spanish historical memory of the Civil War and the Francoist regime. I argue here that the Valley of the Fallen was the incarnation of Franco’s vision for a new post-civil war Spain. However, this memory of the Valley was only one among many public memories. Institutions such as the Spanish episcopate spanning to the non-Catholic Spaniards have developed their own memories surrounding the Valley of the Fallen. This analysis can help historians better understand the modern Spanish religious identity and the complex role of religion in twentieth century fascist regimes.