Visits to the Valley of the Fallen increased by 36% last year compared to 2017 | Culture

The visits to the Valley of the Fallen have grown in 2018 as never before after its reopening in June 2012. Through the basilica cut into the rock of the Cuelgamuros estate, 378,875 people passed. In 2017 there were 278,277 visitors. The growth is 36.1%. From the direction of National Heritage -an institution that manages it "provisionally" since 1982- importance of public success is undermined and it is emphasized that "prior to 2009, the numbers of visitors to the place revolved around 400,000 people".

What the institution directed by Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán does not indicate is that until July 153,667 people had visited it and that in the following five months 225,208 people visited it. It is at least probable that this flow of visitors, unusual in the historical statistics of the place managed by the Foundation of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen, has a direct relationship with the announcement of President Pedro Sánchez of the exhumation of the remains of the dictator Francisco Franco.

In July, the increase soared 49% compared to the same month in 2017. There, 38,269 people passed, some 15,000 more than expected. And so it has remained until the end of the year. The first full year of figures, after the reopening for restoration of the whole, was 2013 and 259,951 people visited it. In 2014, the figure dropped to 240,837. In 2015 it grew by 5.4% to 254,059 visitors. And in 2016, the total went up again: 262,860 people (7.7% less than in 2017 and more than 100,000 less than this year). The sale of tickets in 2017 generated a collection of 1,453,152 euros. At the moment, the 2018 account has not been made public and this newspaper has not received a response from Patrimonio Nacional.

"Reconciliation is not removing things. If there are dead on both sides, we have to honor them all, "the journalist explained last July to some of the visitors who came in indignation at the march of the embalmed corpse of the dictator. The intention of the Government of Pedro Sánchez exhuming Franco It provoked the interest of families who went up to the Sierra Madrileña on weekends to say goodbye to the place as the caudillo's tomb, before it was transformed into a historical interpretation center or cemetery. Even on Sunday, July 15, there was a Francoist march against the exhumation of its ideological referent.

The approaching visitors asked about the reasons to get out of there - where the bodies of 33,833 people, of which 21,423 are not identified - rest, the dictator, who had built the tomb with the forced labor of 20,000 political prisoners. "It is a lack of respect. That would be to deny the story, "said a 23-year-old visitor. "By removing the body the story is not repaired," added the young man who had already been with his friends, but who went on vacation and feared that everything around him would have changed.

Despite the increase in visitors, it is not the most viewed institution although it is the best subsidized. The National Heritage Board of Directors injects financial aid to the boards of directors under its control, for current expenses. None of the institutions exceeds the 340,000 euros that the Benedictine community (beneficiary of the foundation) receives annually. And it does not even have patronage for its economic management like the other eight. For example, the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is more visited (with 504,004 people) than Cuelgamuros and only receives 103,900 euros. The amount allocated to the monks is included in the 1,836,325 euros that the maintenance of the farm and its monumental complex costs.


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