Lonely Planet review
This extraordinary basilica and stone monument is built into the side of a mountain 15km north of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Conceived in the grandiose imagination of the dictator Francisco Franco, it served as a memorial of the those who died during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), though in reality it has always glorified Franco’s side and was constructed by Franco’s prisoners of war, many of whom died in the process. It has long been a pilgrimage site for the small reactionary rump of Franco supporters, who come here especially on November 20 – the anniversary of Franco’s death – to reminisce about Franco’s rule, complete with stiff-armed fascist salutes. Spain’s Socialist government has plans to transform the site into a broader memorial.