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New York, New York
October 1, 2003
The day that we set off for the Valley of the Fallen was a cloudy one. But it wasn't just gray...the sky was 3D with gray, white and silver clouds that were moving quickly across the sky. The church has a huge stone cross right on top that can be seen for 30 miles on clear days. Still several miles from the church, our bus stopped on a bridge where we got our first veiw of this magnificent cross, protruding out of the mountain rock and into the mist and clouds. We were awestruck.
At the top of the hill is the church itself, carved right out of the mountain. We ascend the steps, and move into the cool dimness of the church, made cooler by the fact that we are now inside the mountain. Tapestries adorn the walls, big long, worn rugs depicting historical events...and above the ceiling shows spaces of real mountain rock, the church origins that the builders purposely left visible. Six chapels are accessible, three on each side. Each chapel is a tribute to the officers of a certain force, army, navy, infantry, etc. Those entombed in the church lie in crypts behind the walls on either side of the church. Visitors are not allowed in these crypts, only visiting family members.
We were there on a Sunday at noon, and how interesting to have been. At noon, what lights there were suddenly went out, save one at the front of the church, over the altar and a statue of Jesus hanging from the cross. Around the altar stood twelve priests (one to represent each apostle) who then began chanting in Latin. It was a staggering moment, and for a moment I wasn't sure if I had gone back in time, or had been sucked into a movie. Try and witness this moment if you can. If you are religious, it is powerful.
Outside the church, lush Spanish countryside goes on for miles, and you can get some great pictures.
To find out more about the Valley of the Fallen call 34 91 890 5611. You can drive yourself or take a bus from intercombiador de Moncloa. This sight is open in the winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and on the following days: January 1, 6, May 1, July 17, August 10, and December 24,25, & 31.
Admission is free.
From journal Magical Madrid
San Juan, Puerto Rico
October 27, 2000
From journal Hola from Madrid