During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Catalan Government confiscated this old convent and converted the site into the General Reformatory for Women. In 1939, the building was taken over by Franco’s authorities, who continued to use it as a women’s prison until 1955.
The convent and home for Dominican nuns, known as the Asil del Bon Consell, was requisitioned by the Generalitat Prisons Commission in October 1936 to house inmates from the gaol in Carrer de la Reina Amàlia, which was demolished that same year. Despite its humanist design, the new prison was overcrowded, and conditions for inmates were terrible. After the Events of May 1937, when Marxist sectors and the trade unions were repressed, women members of POUM and the CNT were imprisoned here, sharing the prison with right-wing and anti-republican elements interned for the duration of the war.
In 1939, when Barcelona was occupied, the prison was taken over by Francoist forces, who placed its management in the hands of two religious orders: firstly, the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul; and, secondly, the Mercedarians. The prison was built to hold up to 150 people, but as many as 3,267 women passed through its doors between January and October 1939. The maximum number of inmates was reached in August 1939, with 1,763 women and 43 babies. Living conditions were made even worse by overcrowding. There was no space, food was scarce and conditions of hygiene, deplorable: the inmates could shower only every eight or ten days. There was also a shortage of sanitary material, meaning that the babies did not receive correct care. These insalubrious conditions led to the spread of typhus, tuberculosis and scabies, resulting in high infant mortality rates. During the Franco dictatorship, eleven inmates of Les Corts were sentenced to death and shot at Camp de la Bota.
In 1955, the prison in Les Corts was emptied and the inmates were taken, firstly, to the Model and, later, to the Trinitat penitentiary. Two years later, Dominican nuns recovered ownership of the site and sold it to a real estate company, which demolished it to build a department store and housing blocks. No sign of the old prison remained.
In 2010, the Barcelona City Council installed a small plaque in the site to remember the prisoners who had been kept in this prison and their children. Shortly after, a local and associative movement began to claim the memory of anti-Franco women who had been imprisoned in Les Corts. Since then, several commemorations and citizen vindications were yearly organized and the site was signposted with new panels containing historical information. In 2019, a memorial monument will be opened at the corner of the streets Europa and Joan Güell.
For more information: www.presodelescorts.org
Address: 617, Avinguda Diagonal || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.387988193, 2.128024454