Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day trip from Madrid

A few days ago I travelled to Valle de los Ciados, or Valley of the Fallen, and El Escorial outside of Madrid. After dad and I took the battery out of the car, brought it to a mechanic who recharged it, and we had it reinstalled properly (we left the interior light on when we came back from Asturias) we drove and hour to the Northwest. The first stop was Valley of the Fallen, where Franco used slave labor POW's from the Spanish civil war to construct a monument to the soldiers that were killed during the conflict (from the right side politically). He excavated the interior of a granite mountain to build a cathedral, and used the rock that was removed to build the largest cross in the world. It is quite imposing at 150 meters high, which is 492 feet. The cathedral inside the mountain has one of the largest mosaics in the world too. Franco even thought so much of himself that he included his likeness ascending to heaven in the mosaic, but I doubt he ever made it there after killing so many innocent people during his rein. Dad and I walked the path up the mountain to the cross itself, a beautiful hike. The view from the top was really great, and it was nice to escape the pollution of Madrid, which can be seen in the distance. Around the back of the mountain is a medium sized monastery, you can see it in one of the pictures from the top.

We returned to the car and drove a little further down the road to the Escorial, or monastery. This is the largest one in Spain, and it seemed gigantic. We went into the cathedral on the site and dad told me that many of the kings of Spain were entombed there. We walked around the outside of the building for a while, taking in the sights, and ran across a flock of the current king's merino sheep. It was cool to see them walking around the area without anyone really watching them. 


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