Historical walks through the 20th century Barcelona  



Nearly 1,700 prisoners shot by the Franco regime between 1939 and 1952 were buried in the mass grave known as El Fossar de la Pedrera within the Montjuïc cemetery, now a memory site that was dignified in 1985. The victims of these executions were people accused of military rebellion by military tribunes set up by the new regime, which orchestrated a harsh repression against those who had supported the Republic.

For years, the bodies of the poor and unidentified persons had been buried at the Moragas quarry, also known as the “Fossar de la Pedrera” (quarry cemetery), and, during the Civil War, victims of the rearguard repression and fascist bombardments were laid to rest here. However, the site is particularly infamous because, after the war, it was used as a grave for those executed in Barcelona by Francoist authorities.

With the entry of Franco’s troops into the city, harsh repression began that, in particular, affected political parties, trade unions and organisations that had lent their support to the Republic; people that were arrested and tried in court martial proceedings and convicted of military rebellion. Those sentenced to death were usually shot in El Camp de la Bota and later moved here in wooden boxes that were thrown into a ditch and covered with quicklime and earth to decompose the bodies as rapidly as possible.

Once the victims had been executed, relatives could move them to Montjuïc cemetery to identify the bodies before burial, but they often did not find out until they had already been buried. Sometimes, permission was given to the family to bury the bodies in an individual niche but they were generally buried in the cemetery’s mass grave. Those that were not identified or those not to have confessed before their death according to the prison chaplain were buried directly in the mass grave. In fact, Lluís Companys, President of the Government of Catalonia, shot at Montjuïc castle on 14 October 1940, was to be buried in the mass grave, but his sister arrived in time to identify the body and request that he be buried in a niche she had rented. Finally, the President was buried in the family niche, yet with a plaque that did not state his name to prevent his tomb from becoming a place of commemoration for those that had defended the Republic and the freedoms of Catalonia.

In 1953, those shot under the Franco regime ceased to be buried there and it was half deserted, though the destitute and corpses without niches or relatives that assumed responsibility for them continued to be buried there. In 1976, following the death of the dictator, the first event took place in memory of those buried there as any kind of tribute was prohibited during the dictatorship. In 1985, the place was honoured with a project by the architect Beth Galí comprising the mausoleum of President Lluís Companys, a set of columns bearing the names of the victims of the repression (though some of them are not buried here) and a large gardened area with unique tombstones to all the victims of the Holocaust. Visitors can freely enter the mass grave or through guided tours offered by the Montjuïc cemetery.

Address: 56-58, Carrer de la Mare de Déu del Port (South-West cemetery, Montjuïc) || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.356039069, 2.148570610

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