Historical walks through the 20th century Barcelona  

Eixample dret


“Encaix” (Lace) is the name given to the monument to the victims of Civil War bombings. It stands on the site where, on 17 March1938, a bomb hit a lorry loaded with explosive material, killing many and making that air raid one of those with the highest death tolls that the city suffered.

Of the 194 air raids that the city of Barcelona suffered in the Spanish Civil War, those that took place on 16, 17 and 18 March 1938 were the most intense and those that caused the most damage. The attack was ordered personally by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, whose aviation gave support to Franco throughout the war. The objective was to cause as many deaths and as much damage as possible, striking fear into the rearguard population and spreading demoralisation.

On 17 March 1938, at the crossroads of Carrer de Balmes and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, where the monument known as “Encaix” now stands, a bomb hit a truck carrying nearly four tonnes of explosive material (TNT). The resulting explosion was unusually great, causing enormous damage and killing 23 soldiers and their captain, who were on board the truck, as well as many passers-by, and seriously affecting nearby buildings. The next day, newspapers around the world published the story, speculating with the idea that a new type of bomb with vast power of destruction had caused the enormous explosion and the column of smoke.

Days later, on March 26, the Catalan Government published the number of victims from those three consecutive days of air raids: 875 dead and more than 1,500 injured. Moreover, 48 buildings were completely destroyed and 75 partially damaged. The bombers made 69 raids in those three days, and continued constantly over the following weeks in their work of reducing the city’s streets to rubble.

On 29 April 2003, at this emblematic site outside the Coliseum theatre and cinema, the monument to the victims of bombing during the Civil War, was unveiled. The work of Margarita Andreu, its structure, ten metres high, is made of stainless steel and is formed by four straight bars and four leaning struts, reminiscent of a building that has been damaged by bombs, as well as symbolising a society thrown off balance by the war. The artist, however, seeks to suggest the hope that, in time, everything that is broken can become joined once more. Amongst those who promoted the monument was historian Josep Benet, who had called for its construction since 1988. Benet wanted the piece to be engraved with the words of Winston Churchill during the Nazi air raids over Great Britain, when he said: “I do not at all underrate the severity of the ordeal which lies before us; but I believe our countrymen will show themselves capable of standing up to it, like the brave men of Barcelona”.

Address: 595, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.387947478, 2.166311020

  • Periods:
  • Second Republic
  • Civil War
  • Francoism
  • Transition