Palau de Pedralbes, built in the early-20th century and converted into the Palau Reial de Barcelona, was used during the Civil War as the residence of Manuel Azaña, President of the Republic, when the Spanish Government moved to Barcelona.
The industrialist Antoni Güell, in cooperation with monarchist sectors in Barcelona, built the Palau de Pedralbes on land he owned in order to offer it to King Alfonso XIII as a residence when he visited the city. The building was completed between 1919 and 1925 by the architects Eusebi Bona and Francesc de Paula Nebot, whilst the gardens were designed by Rubió i Tudurí, using ornamental elements by Carles Buïgas and Antoni Gaudí.
During the Second Republic, the State transferred ownership of the mansion to Barcelona City Council and, in 1932, President Macià officially opened the Museum of Decorative Art and a student residence here. During the Civil War, the mansion housed refugee children fleeing from war zones all over Spain. When the Republican Government was moved to Barcelona in November 1937, the site was converted into the residence of President Manuel Azaña and was renamed the Palau Presidencial. The transfer of the central government to the city from Valencia also signified the arrival of many Administration workers, obliging both the Catalan Government and the City Council to provide several buildings, something that contributed to the tensions that existed amongst the three authorities.
Besides ensuring the safety of its members during the war, the transfer of the government was carried out in order to take over the powers that the Generalitat had acquired after halting the military coup with the cooperation of popular forces. The Catalan Government had adopted competences that went beyond the provisions of the Statute of Núria (1932), coining money, taking over public order and establishing the Defence Ministry, for example. Central government was particularly concerned by the workers’ committees, which formed a counter-power and escaped institutional control. After the Events of May 1937, the Republican Government re-established its control in Catalonia by sending the forces of public order to Barcelona.
After the occupation of Barcelona by Francoist troops, the Palau de Pedralbes was converted into the residence of the dictator Francisco Franco when he visited the city.
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