The Palau de la Generalitat (Government of Catalonia Palace) has been the site of several key events in the contemporary history of the country. On 14 April 1931, Francesc Macià proclaimed from the balcony, the Catalan Republic. Years later, during the military uprising of 19 July 1936 that sparked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the rebel General Goded was arrested and taken to the Palau to announce his surrender. Forty years later, the balcony of the Palau was the scene of one of the most memorable episodes in Catalan history: the return of Josep Tarradellas from exile as the president of Catalonia.
On 14 April 1931, shortly after Lluís Companys had proclaimed the Republic from the balcony of the City Hall, Francesc Macià, who had just taken possession as president of the Catalan Government, also proclaimed the Catalan Republic as a Member State of the Iberian Federation. The aim of this gesture was to make the Catalan question a central issue, opening up a process that would lead towards the establishment of a federal Spanish State. To this end, intense negotiations began with the new Spanish Republican Government and its provisional president, Niceto Alcalá Zamora. On April 17, three Spanish ministers arrived in Barcelona for talks aimed at agreeing a political solution to Macià’s proclamation, which entailed giving up federalist ideas. In exchange, autonomous powers were granted, with the Catalan executive taking on the historic name of Generalitat de Catalunya, which would be furnished with a statute of autonomy requiring the approval of both the Catalan people, in a referendum, and the Spanish Parliament.
Five years later, on 19 July 1936, the date on which the Spanish Civil War broke out, General Goded was arrested at the Palau de la Divisió. President Companys ordered the rebel commander to be brought to his office in the Palau de la Generalitat. There, Companys demanded that Goded announce his surrender on the radio and order all rebel forces to cease hostilities. At first, the General refused to announce the failure of the military uprising, but he finally agreed. By radio, he confirmed his arrest and, in order to prevent more bloodshed, released his soldiers from all commitments. President Companys then announced that the revolt had been quashed, praising the institutional and civil forces that had defended the government.
Decades later, on 23 October 1977, following the death of the dictator, the Palau de la Generalitat witnessed the return of President Josep Tarradellas. In Catalonia, the parties with programmes aimed at a break with Spain and vindications of greater autonomy won a resounding victory at the first democratic elections in 1977. In order to seize the political initiative, the Spanish president, Adolfo Suárez, recognised the historic legitimacy of the president of the Generalitat in exile. On June 27, President Josep Tarradellas went to Madrid to meet Suárez and King Juan Carlos I. There, Tarradellas negotiated the formal restoration of Generalitat, independently of the Assembly of Parliamentarians elected in 1977. On 23 October 1977, Tarradellas reached Barcelona and, from the balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat, said the words that have gone down in history: “Citizens of Catalonia, I am here”. The next day, in a ceremony attended by Adolfo Suárez, Tarradellas was invested as president of the provisional Generalitat.
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