A walk along which we will visit a palace where kings, presidents of the Republic or Italian fascist leaders were housed and a women’s prison that became a symbol of Franco’s repression in the city.
1. Crossroads Passeig de Gràcia and Avinguda de la Diagonal
This crossroads between two of the main thoroughfares in Barcelona witnessed several important episodes in contemporary local history, becoming a crucial space for the historic memory in the city. In July 1936, days after the outbreak of the Civil War, thousands assembled here to salute the militia columns as they left, bound for the fighting at the front. Two years later, on 28 October 1938, citizens gathered once more to honour and bid farewell to the International Brigades, which had defended the Republic and now left the country months before the end of the war.
In July 1936, this crossroads witnessed a march of volunteers off to the war front. The CNT-FAI called for as many men as possible to muster at the crossroads of Passeig de Gràcia and Diagonal, by the Cinc dOros obelisk, to form part of the militias bound for the Aragon front. A massive crowd assembled, including both militiamen and members of the general public come to cheer them on their way. A few small columns left the city on July 22 and 23, whilst the largest departed on July 24. Two large columns were formed: the Durruti, comprising some 2,500 volunteers; and the Ortiz, with around 800 militiamen. The origins of these columns go back to July 21, when the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias (CCMA) was established with the mission of organising the countrys own militias, as a large proportion of the army had supported the military uprising against the Republic.
Two years later, on 28 October 1938, in compliance with the agreement between Juan Negrín, leader of the Republican Government, and the League of Nations, to withdraw all foreign nationals fighting in the popular army, this same crossroads witnessed another important event. The people of Barcelona assembled here en masse to bid farewell and pay homage to the International Brigades, military units established at the start of the Civil War and formed by foreign nationals from 54 countries. The different sources vary in their estimates, but most agree that there were around 60,000, volunteers, 10,000 of whom were killed in combat.
Many banners and flags expressing thanks were seen that day, whilst Republican air force planes flew over the area dropping leaflets thanking the Brigadiers for their contribution to the war effort. Some 300,000 people, as well as representatives from the institutions, all attended the parade in honour of these soldiers, whilst the band played The Internationale and the Himno de Riego. Today, a monument to the International Brigades stands in Barcelonas Horta-Guinardó district.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
2. Headquarters of Occupation Services
During the Civil War, the Palau Robert, a neoclassical building dating to 1903, housed the Catalan Governments Culture Ministry. Later, after the entry into the city of Francos troops, the building was requisitioned and converted into the Headquarters of Occupation Services, centre of operations for Francoist repression.
On 26 January 1939, the rebel army occupied Barcelona, and Franco subjected the city to a special regime of occupation. The goal was to organise the repression against the so-called red-separatists and to establish order amongst the victors in order to prevent in-fighting. General Eliseo Álvarez Arenas was appointed head of the Occupation Services, which controlled the Civil Government, the Military Government and Barcelona City Council. Indeed, hierarchically, Occupation Services was above all other services, including health care, the press, propaganda and even the bank.
Under the so-called special regime of occupation, Barcelona was kept in a state of war and the new authorities exercised iron control over all activities. Materials of all kinds (particularly vehicles and food) were requisitioned, more than 15,800 Catalan Government functionaries were purged, the citys newspapers were censored, street names were changed, sculptures with any political or Catalan nationalist connotations were removed, etc. The special regime of occupation officially ended on 1 August 1939, when the new City Council, under Mayor Miquel Mateu i Pla had taken up office, Barcelona Provincial Council had been established and the General Headquarters of the IV Military Region, corresponding to the area of Catalonia, had been set up.
3. Basque Government Headquarters
In October 1937, after the Basque Country had fallen into Francoist hands, the Basque Government took over this building in Barcelonas Passeig de Gràcia. This provided the base for important work receiving Basque refugees who arrived in Catalonia during Civil War.
A few months after the start of the Civil War, in November 1936, a Basque Government delegation took up office in Barcelona, firstly in Carrer de València and, two months later, in this building in Passeig de Gràcia. Basque refugees had been arriving in Catalonia since the outbreak of the war, but the biggest exodus began on 23 August 1937, when Francos campaign in the central northern part of the Peninsula ended.
Soon after, in October 1937, the transfer of the entire Basque Government, led by President José Antonio Aguirre, was approved, and the Basque authorities arrived in the Catalan capital the following month. From its new site, the Basque Government centred particularly on the work of such departments as Social Assistance, which provided accommodation for Basque refugees in Catalonia, opened hospitals to attend to them and managed food distribution. Moreover, the Department of Labour organised workshops, which focused, particularly, on war industry and were run, in the main, by women. Basque culture was also promoted through magazines and Basque Government publications. A chapel was even established in the Palau Maldà in Carrer del Pi to enable the Basque refugees, many of them devout Catholics, to take Mass in a Barcelona where religion had been excluded from public life.
On 5 February 1939, as Francos troops occupied Barcelona, President Aguirre crossed the French border with the President de Catalonia, Lluís Companys. From then on, the Basque Government continued to exist in exile.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. Bar Funicular
In 1973, the Bar Funicular and the lobby of the building at 70, Carrer de Girona 70 were the scene of confrontation between the police and militants from the Iberian Liberation Movement (MIL). A policeman was killed, and Salvador Puig Antich, a member of the revolutionary band, was arrested and condemned to death.
The Iberian Liberation Movement (MIL) was a revolutionary group set up in 1972, their philosophy based on anarchist and Marxist ideals, to oppose the Franco regime. They defended the use of violence and robbed banks to fund their propaganda activities and purchase weapons. The groups actions were successful until, following a shoot-out during a bank robbery, the police identified the number plate of their getaway vehicle.
From that moment, the noose began to tighten around the MIL. The police arrested Santi Soler just as he was planning to escape to France. Tortured and threatened, the young confessed that he was due to meet fellow group members Xavier Garriga and Salvador Puig Antich at the Bar Funicular the next day, 25 September 1973. That day, Santi Soler took his seat at the bar, surrounded by plain-clothed police. As the anarchists came through the door, they were set upon. Xavier Garriga did not resist arrest, Puig Antich fought back. To prevent scandal, the police dragged them into the entrance to a nearby building, at number 70, Carrer de Girona, where there was a scuffle and a weapon was fired, causing the death of Inspector Francisco Anguas.
Badly wounded, Puig Antich was arrested and taken to the Model Prison. He was tried by court martial in a trial full of irregularities. These included different versions of the number of bullet casings found at the scene; the police insistence that only Puig Antichs gun was fired; finally, the autopsy on Inspector Anguas was carried out at police headquarters in Via Laietana, making it impossible to ascertain whether the bullet that had killed him had really come from the anarchists gun. Despite all the efforts of Puig Antichs lawyer and the civil campaign to avoid the passing of the death penalty, the military tribunal sentenced the young man to death by the garrote on 2 March 1974.
5. Monument to Rafael de Casanova
In 1977, Catalonias national day, September 11, was celebrated by the largest demonstration that had ever taken place in the country. The demonstrators marched to the site of this monument to pay tribute to Rafael Casanova, 38 years after the statue had been removed by the Francoist authorities.
The statue of Rafael de Casanova, hero of the defence of Barcelona during the Bourbon siege in 1714, is by Rossend Nobas, who carved it on the occasion of the 1888 Universal Exposition in Barcelona. Originally, the sculpture stood in what is now Passeig de Lluís Companys, the main entrance to the Expo site in the Ciutadella Park, and was not transferred to its present site, where Casanova is thought to have fallen wounded, until 1914. Since 1897, the statue has been a meeting point each September 11, the date when Barcelona finally fell to the Bourbon army, for people manifesting their nationalist feelings by making floral offerings to memory of the Catalan hero.
On 12 April 1939, following the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Francoist authorities that had occupied the city removed the statue and placed it in storage. Although the new regime banned all Catalan nationalist demonstrations at the monument, floral offerings and Catalan flags continued to appear at the site each September 11, though not without brutal reprisals. Years later, on the death of the dictator in 1975 and the start of the Democratic Transition, society and political parties called for the restoration of Catalan cultural symbols. Finally, in December 1976, approval was given for the recovery of monuments removed during the dictatorship. The statue of Rafael Casanova was installed on its pedestal once more on 27 May 1977.
September 11 that year, 1977, saw the largest demonstration that had ever taken place in Catalonia, occupying the whole of Passeig de Gràcia. The figure of one million people is mentioned, though a more accurate estimate would place the number at 750,000. On reaching the monument, those at the head of the march, formed by representatives from Catalan political forces, placed floral offerings at the pedestal. Though this was a peaceful march, it ended with the death of a young man, Carlos Gustavo Frecher, killed by a rubber bullet fired by the police, which reacted violently against demonstrators for democratic freedoms on several occasions during the Transition.
In 1980, after the first democratic elections to the Parliament of Catalonia, September 11, known here as LOnze de Setembre, was declared Catalan National Day.
PERIOD: FRANCOISM, TRANSITION
6. Hotel Ritz
After the military uprising against the Republic on 19 July 1936, a new revolutionary order was imposed in Barcelona. This entailed, amongst other things, the requisition of such buildings as the Hotel Ritz (now Palace Hotel), which was converted into a soup kitchen and war hospital.
The Hotel Ritz, one of Barcelonas most outstanding luxury establishments, was designed by the architect Eduard Ferrés and built in 1919. In the summer of 1936, following the victory of anti-fascist forces over the military rebellion in Barcelona, a revolutionary movement emerged spontaneously in the city, leading to a change in property rights. Political and union organisations, whose intervention had been crucial in quashing the military uprising, requisitioned several buildings, both civil and religious, converting them to their own purposes. These organisations set up their headquarters in large, central premises, adapting private buildings and establishments, many of them dear to the hearts of the wealthier classes, in order to provide services to the community.
An example of this is the Hotel Ritz (today the Palace Hotel). Taken over by two unions, the National Confederation of Labour (CNT) and the General Union of Workers (UGT), the site was converted into a soup kitchen, Gastronòmic no. 1, and a war hospital. The soup kitchen distributed free meals though, due to the many hungry mouths to be fed, rations were very low. As a hospital, the site attended, in the main, to people injured in the air raid bombings that the city suffered, as well as those wounded at the front. In 1938, however, the Ritz was restored to its original function and provided accommodation for, amongst others, many Republican Government officials installed in Barcelona.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
7. Monument to the victims of Civil War bombing
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 citys 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.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
8. Universitat Square
This square, one of the nerve centres in the city, was the scene of several historic episodes over the course of the 20th century. In July 1936, when the military uprising against the Republic government began, serious confrontations took place here between rebel soldiers and forces loyal to the Republic. Later, during the Franco dictatorship, the square witnessed demonstrations against the regime, such as those in 1951 and 1957 to protest against tram ticket price rises. Moreover, the University of Barcelona building was also the venue for actions against the Franco regime organised by the combative student movement that emerged in the mid-1950s.
On 19 July 1936, a cavalry squadron from the Carrer de Tarragona barracks occupied Plaça de la Universitat, encountering no resistance. There, the unit was to meet up with an infantry regiment from the Bruc barracks in Pedralbes, whose objective was to reach Plaça de Catalunya. Armed confrontations soon broke out between the rebel soldiers and republican forces. In order to quash the revolt, it was necessary to regain both Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça de la Universitat. To this end, government forces decided to isolate the two positions, preventing the rebels from receiving reinforcements. In the early-afternoon, a Civil Guard Unit loyal to the Republic entered the square from Carrer d’Aribau and, after talks lasting an hour, persuaded the rebel forces to surrender. The military uprising was quashed in Barcelona and other cities all over Spain, effectively starting the Spanish Civil War.
Years later, during the Franco dictatorship, this point in the city was the scene of public protests against the regime, many of them led by students from the University of Barcelona, whose main centre is in the square. The installation of the Franco dictatorship was followed by a period of repression in the academic world, with a purge of teachers, the abolition of university autonomy and a genocidal attack on Catalan language and culture. On 9 February 1946, in response to this repression, the university section of the National Front of Catalonia – an armed anti-Franco organisation – placed an explosive device in the chapel of the university building, coinciding with a ceremony to commemorate the Francoist students who died in the Civil War. The campaign continued two days later, when dynamite cartridges were placed in the premises of the Spanish University Union (SEU) in the same building. In reprisal for this, several students considered to be Catalan nationalists were interrogated and beaten, though no evidence of guilt was found.
In 1951, university students led the huge demonstrations against the rising price of tram tickets, which increased by 40% in Barcelona whilst remaining unchanged in Madrid. At this time of shortages and low wages, the call was made for people to boycott the tram service. On February 25, confrontations occurred between students and police in Plaça de la Universitat and at other university facilities, such as the Medical Faculty and the Industrial School. After a boycott lasting several consecutive days, the authorities lowered the tram ticket price, and people saw, for the first time, how the regime could be forced to give in to public pressure.
In January 1957, another tram boycott, for the same reason as in 1951, led to serious disturbances in the square, which ended with students occupying the university building, where they burned portraits of Franco and José Antonio and called out against the regime. Mounted police entered the building to drive them out. This time, student participation in protests was even more intense, opening a new period in the student movement, which grew in strength after 1955 to become one of the most combative organised sectors in the struggle against Franco.
In the 1960s, rising student numbers led to spreading anti-Franco movements in the university, and links were forged with the more pro-Catalan sectors of the Church and other sectors of society: intellectuals, the residents’ movement, etc. This new anti-Francoist wave culminated with the founding, at the Capuchins Monastery in Sarrià, of the Democratic Union of University of Barcelona Students (SDEUB) in 1966.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, FRANCOISM
9. Model prison
The Model prison is one of the most infamous sites of Francoist repression in Barcelona. It was used by Fascist troops from the very day after they occupied the city, and the detention centre became a symbol amongst those who had defended the legitimacy of the Republic and individuals and movements opposed to the new regime.
Opened in June 1904, the Cellular Prison of Barcelona was designed as a model to be followed within the Spanish penitentiary system. Rationalist in style, the prison has a radial, cellular structure that enables all the galleries to be visually controlled from the watchtower in the centre. During the Civil War (1936-1939), military personnel implicated in the coup, fascists and right-wingers were held in this prison. After the Events of May 1937, CNT, FAI and POUM militants were also imprisoned here.
With the entry of Francos troops into Barcelona on 26 January 1939, a machinery of repression was rolled out. Those accused of being hostile to the new regime had to prove otherwise by providing guarantees and appearing before a court. In the months following the occupation, thousands were incarcerated in the Model prison, which suffered from overcrowding: though designed to hold 800 inmates, it was to reach more than 15,000 prisoners at a time. In the 1940s, the prison population began to decline and, during the 1950s and early 1960s, most of the prisoners were common criminals as a result of the enactment of the harsh Vagrancy Act (Ley de vagos y maleantes), which mostly affected the marginalised masses in the periphery of cities that grew haphazardly. They shared the space with political prisoners (clandestine trade unionists, Catalan nationalists and politicians) that spent short periods of time from a fortnight to four months awaiting trial and, in the event of long sentences, were transferred to other prisons, generally outside Catalonia.
In the 1970s, the number of political prisoners rose once again in the Model prison as, in the latter years of Francos rule, pro-democracy movements became highly mobilised to pursue their struggle far and wide (factories, universities, residents associations, etc.) while the regime, far from accepting the turmoil, implemented harshly repressive measures. The most noteworthy events in this period included the arrest of 113 members of the Assemblea de Catalunya (Assembly of Catalonia) in October 1973 in the neighbouring Church of Santa Maria Mitjancera and the execution of Salvador Puig Antich member of the revolutionary group Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (Iberian Liberation Movement) in the same prison on 2 March 1974. The sentence passed against Puig Antich, accused of killing a policeman, unleashed a wave of anti-Franco demonstrations. This period saw the creation of Comissions de Solidaritat (Solidarity Committees), a network of solidarity supporting political prisoners to alleviate the poor living conditions in prison and to uphold links with the outside world.
During the transition to democracy, the streets surrounding the Model prison were the scene of calls for amnesty for political prisoners by Lluís Maria Xirinacs, a pacifist priest, until the amnesty law was finally passed on 14 October 1977.
In recent years, several associations of former prisoners and historians have requested that a memorial on repression under Franco and the fight for freedoms should be established at the Model prison when the penitentiary is finally vacated.
10. Church of Santa Maria Mitjancera
In October 1973, around 150 members of the Assembly of Catalonia attended a clandestine meeting in the Church of Santa Maria Mitjancera. The police raided the church and arrested 113 participants at the meeting.
At 9 am on 28 October 1973, some 150 members of the Standing Committee of the Assembly of Catalonia a platform for a unified anti-Franco opposition entered the Church of Santa Maria Mitjancera, where a clandestine meeting was to be held. Such events were often carried out in places of worship, as some of Catalonias ecclesiastical sectors identified with the anti-Francoist cause. Moreover, in 1953, the Franco regime had accepted a Vatican concordat that prohibited police intervention in a place of worship. However, this pact was rendered invalid if the police received permission from the civil governor to enter the church.
Despite the steps taken to keep the meeting a secret, two hours after the meeting began, the police surrounded the building and, with the corresponding permission, entered the church and arrested most of the participants, though some managed to escape amidst the chaos. In total, 113 members of the Assembly were arrested and taken to the police station on Via Laietana. There, they were subject to endless interrogations as well as physical and verbal abuse. All of them were put behind bars, men in the Model prison and women in the Trinitat prison. A campaign of solidarity with the prisoners ensued and leaflets were handed out all over the city. In prison, members of the Standing Committee received a continuous outpouring of support from Catalonia, the rest of Spain and abroad. Repression under the regime led to a rallying of support for the Assembly of Catalonia, which became the main platform of opposition until the elections in 1977.
Gòtic & Raval
A tour of the centre of Barcelona to visit key sites during the times of the Civil War, the Franco dictatorship and the democratic transition.
1. Catalunya square
Plaça de Catalunya was the scene of several important events during the Civil War. On 19 July 1936, rebel forces leaving their Barcelona barracks were stopped in the square by forces loyal to the Republic. Nearly a year later, on 3 May 1937, in the incident known as the Events of May, armed confrontation broke out when Catalan Government forces attempted to occupy the Telefónica building. In subsequent decades, the square, as the epicentre of the city, was the scene of many public demonstrations and events: from shows of support for the Franco regime to rallies demanding greater freedom in the dying years of the dictatorship and during
On 19 July 1936, rebel troops marched out of their barracks to attempt to take control of the city. At eight in the morning, led by Commander López-Amor, they reached Plaça de Catalunya, where a violent engagement with Republican assault guards ensured. The Republican troops were forced to withdraw, and the rebels then attacked the Telefónica building on the corner of the square with Portal de lÀngel, where the unit led by Assault Guard Lieutenant Perales held out on the upper floors until the fighting was over. By nine in the morning, the fascist troops had taken control over all the buildings in the square, but things began to change at around two in the afternoon. The Civil Guard, which had remained loyal to the Republic, counter-attacked to support the assault forces, which had managed to take up position by using underground railway tunnels, trapping López-Amor. Civil volunteers also gave assistance in attacking the various positions held by the fascist forces. Captured artillery pieces also proved most useful, and control was regained over the Military Casino (or mess), the Telefónica building and the Hotel Colón. By four in the afternoon, fighting had ended in this part of the city. The square was a desolate sight to see, covered in the bodies of soldiers, civil guards and anonymous citizens, as well as many dead horses.
Another important incident took place in the square on 3 May 1937, during the so-called Events of May, when different anti-fascist forces in Catalonia did battle with one another. On one side were the Catalan governments forces of public order and the PSUC, UGT and Estat Català (Catalan State) militants; on the other, CNT-FAI and POUM activists. Artemi Aiguader, the Catalan Minister for Governance, ordered the occupation of the Telefónica building to dislodge the CNT-FAI anarcho-syndicalists, who held the monopoly over telephone communications. The occupants put up strong resistance, but at around three in the afternoon, 200 assault guards managed to take control of the first floor, whilst the CNT-FAI called all its militants to its defence and to start a general strike. There ensued an intense struggle for the streets all over the city, particularly on May 4 and 5. On May 6, the Republican central government sent 5,000 assault guards to Barcelona to pacify the situation. An agreement was reached under which the CNT-FAI would leave the Telefónica building first, after which the assault guards would do likewise, but when the anarcho-syndicalists fulfilled their side of the bargain, Catalan Government and UGT forces took advantage to occupy the building. By nightfall, a final cease-fire was agreed between the anarcho-syndicalists and the Government. Estimates place the death toll from this incident at between 280 and 500, with more than one thousand wounded.
Today, a monument to Francesc Macià, by Josep Maria Subirachs, stands in the square. Unveiled in 1991, it was partially paid for by a collection organised by the Avui newspaper, which had promoted the idea since 1977. Macià, who had proclaimed the Catalan Republic within a federation of Iberian republics from the balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat on 14 April 1931, was the first president of the Catalan Government when it was restored under the Second Spanish Republic. He died on Christmas Day 1933, and his funeral was marked by an extraordinary public demonstration of mourning, as a huge cortège accompanied his coffin through the city centre to the cemetery in Montjuïc.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
2. Offices of El Papus magazine
During the Democratic Transition, extreme right-wing organisations carried out a series of terrorist attacks. One such attack took place on 20 September 1977 against this building on the corner of Carrer de Tallers with Plaça de Castella, which housed the offices the satirical magazine El Papus. The bomb sent to the building killed one person and left thirteen injured.
The magazine El Papus, subheading “satirical and neurasthenic review”, first came out on 20 October 1973 and was published until 1986. El Papus was characterised by a savagely satirical take on the latest developments in politics and society.
On 20 September 1977, a suitcase bomb was received at the headquarters of Amaika, which published three magazines (El Papus, El Cuervo and Party). The device did not explode in the directors office as intended, but at reception, killing the porter, Juan Peñalver, and wounding thirteen others. The Triple A (Anti-Communist Apostolic Alliance) claimed responsibility for the attack, and everything points to the authors of the crime belonging to the National Brotherhood of the Franco Guard and the Spanish youth movement Juventud Española en Pie. The attack was the fascist movements response to the latest issue of El Papus, dated 20 November 1976, containing a satirical article on the rally held in Madrid to commemorate the first anniversary of Francos death.
In protest against the attack, 6,000 demonstrators marched from the headquarters of the magazine, passing through Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça de Sant Jaume, to the Civil Government building, where a manifesto was read out. After several weeks silence, El Papus returned on 8 October 1977, its cover featuring a photograph of the effects caused by the bomb and the headline Rancorous Visit. The heading for the editorial was You fascists are the terrorists”. Soon after the attack, 13 people were arrested, all known for their violent attitude to democratic change. However, the sentence showed the police investigation to have been completely inept. The accused were sentenced to just months in prison for possession of explosives.
3. Rambla de Canaletes
This is the point on La Rambla where the arrest of Andreu Nin took place, leader of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), which had been made illegal following the Events of May 1937. Following his detention, Nin was murdered by Soviet agents. A plaque in memory of Nin was unveiled here in 1983.
After the Events of May 1937, the Republican Government launched a powerful campaign of repression against the POUM, the CNT and the FAI. In late-May, the POUMs press organ, La Batalla, was closed, and on June 16 a decree was signed abolishing the party. That same day, the POUM executive committee members were arrested, along with the editorial staff of La Batalla and forty leading militants. All were taken to Valencia, with exception of their leader, Andreu Nin, who disappeared after his arrest at 128, La Rambla.
Andreu Nin was taken to the prison in Alcalá de Henares, where he was tortured in order to make him confess his guilt and the links between the POUM and agents working for Franco and Hitler. His imprisonment was not made public until June 22. He was finally murdered at an unknown point on the road from Alcalá to Perales de Tajuña. On June 25, the newspapers reported that the POUM members and Andreu Nin had been tried. However, in October 1938, a resolution was published stating that the evidence against Andreu Nin was false and that he was, consequently, innocent.
Andreu Nin (1892-1937) was one of the leaders of the revolutionary socialist movement in Spain. He became POUM general secretary in 1935, after the merger between the Field Worker Bloc (BOC) and Communist Left parties. During the war, he was Justice Minister for the Catalan Government from September to December 1936, setting up the popular tribunals and establishing the age of civil majority at 18 years.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. Church of Sant Agustí
In 1971, during the dying years of the Franco dictatorship, the Church of Sant Agustí was the scene of a meeting to found the Assembly of Catalonia, an organisation bringing together various forces opposed to the Fascist regime.
On 7 November 1971, the first session of the Assembly of Catalonia, a united platform in the struggle against Franco, took place in this church. The Assembly was a clandestine organisation whose programme focused on four basic points: political freedoms, amnesty for political prisoners, provisional restoration of the 1932 Statute of Autonomy and coordination with other democratic forces throughout Spain. This programme was summed up in the slogan Freedom, Amnesty, Statute of Autonomy, which became a reference for the entire Catalan pro-democracy dissident movement. The Assembly of Catalonia provided a civic platform at which political parties shared the table with unions, residents associations and all kinds of civil society organisations and associations.
The platform performed important work in promoting united action and protest throughout Catalan territory, becoming the main framework for coordinating the anti-Franco movement and leading the main popular mobilisations during those times. However, the Assembly of Catalonia did not succeed in attracting more moderate sectors amongst the democratic opposition, which considered it too left-wing, despite its broad-based political plurality. The Assembly was a pioneering initiative in Spain as a whole in terms of uniting pro-democracy movements, promoting many united obilisations, campaigns and political actions. The association also suffered harsh repression on several occasions, such as the events of 28 October 1973, when police arrested 113 members of the Assemblys Permanent Committee whilst they took part in a clandestine meeting in the Church of Santa Maria Mitjancera.
5. Liceu Theatre
On 19 October 1938, a charity concert by Pau Casals for the Childrens Aid Society took place at the Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona Opera House). During the performance, the great cellist read a few words asking for help to buy clothes, food and medicine for children and elderly people suffering from the consequences of the Civil War.
Pau Casals, the internationally-renowned Catalan musician, always defended peace and freedom, as well as becoming involved in humanitarian actions, often performing charity concerts such as the one at the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona at the height of the Civil War. Benefits from this concert, which was Casals last in Catalonia and Spain before he went into exile, went to the Childrens Aid Society. Half-way through the performance, in which he was accompanied by the National Concert Orchestra, conducted by Pérez Cases, the great cellist read a few words, addressed to the American people, asking for aid to purchase clothes, food and medicine for children and the elderly. The Teatre del Liceu opera house was packed, and those in the audience included Manuel Azaña, president of the Republic, and Juan Negrín, head of the Republican Government. Representatives from the Republican civil and military establishment and intellectual and artistic circles were also in attendance. After the concert, Pau Casals met the authorities and other personalities from the world of politics at the Cercle del Liceu club, where he was congratulated on the performance and his commitment to the Catalan people.
After the victory of Francos armies, Pau Casals left Spain to take up residence in Prada de Conflent, France. During World War Two, he continued to perform at charity concerts in aid of his exiled fellow countrymen and women, particularly those confined in concentration camps. In recognition of this commitment to human rights, Casals was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958 and commissioned to compose the Hymn of the United Nations in 1971.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
6. Les Drassanes Artillery Park
Drassanes Artillery Park -former shipyard- was one of the last places where rebel troops were defeated on 19 July 1936, when the uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War began. The fighting here lasted 24 hours.
On the morning of 19 July 1936, with the rebel army occupying the streets, several non-commissioned officers in the garrison at Drassanes artillery park, members of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), disobeyed the order to rise against the Republic and attempted to take control of the barracks from inside. They allowed a group of anarchists in the building and seized machine guns, rifles and grenades. This forced the rebel officers and soldiers to take refuge in another part of the barracks. The confiscated weapons, handed out to those loyal to the Republic, was most useful in the siege of Military Facilities and Les Drassanes, which was the last rebel stronghold to surrender.
Whilst the Drassanes barracks was receiving support from Military Facilities (which occupied what is now the Military Government building) and from machine guns emplaced around the monument to Columbus, it was extremely difficult for Republican fighters to take the site. During the night of July 19, the anarchists advanced their positions and built barricades outside the barracks from which they launched the final attack on Les Drassanes the next morning.
That morning, of June 20, a group of assault guards reached the rear gates of the building and began the attack, which was repelled by a machine gun, causing a score of deaths amongst both troops and ordinary citizens. Suddenly, the attackers began to receive support from forces that had just managed to take control over Military Facilities. Lieutenant Josep M. Colubí, who was leading the forces in the barracks, agreed to surrender on condition that he and his soldiers were handed over to the forces of public order. However, the attackers did not fulfil the agreement and killed Colubí along with several other men in revenge for the death, during the assault on the barracks, of Francisco Ascaso, CNT-FAI anarcho-syndicalist leader, before the forces of public order were unable to bring the situation under control.
After the war, part of the barracks was demolished. Since 1941 the building of the former shipyard hosts the Maritime Museum of Barcelona.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
7. Palau de la Divisió (Headquarters of the IV Military Region)
On 19 July 1936, when the rebel troops occupied the streets of Barcelona, General Manuel Goded came to the Catalan capital from Majorca in order to reorganise the uprising, which was facing defeat. On reaching the city, he was taken to the Palau de la Divisió (Palace of the Division, General Army Headquarters), from where he tried to apply different strategies in a struggle that was doomed to fail.
At 8 am on the morning of 19 July 1936, when the military uprising had begun but had not yet been proclaimed, at Palau de la Divisió headquarters, General Fernández Burriel requested General Francisco Llano de la Encomienda, the highest military authority in Catalonia, to join the rebellion but, loyal to the Republic, the General refused. Once General Manuel Goded, military commander in the Balearic Islands and a supporter of the uprising, had Majorca under control, he went to Barcelona to end the lack of coordination that reigned amongst the rebel forces. On arriving at the Palau de la Divisió, he relieved General Llano de la Encomienda of his duties and placed him under arrest.
As soon as he received reports on the fighting in the streets, he realised that the situation was critical, as the rebel troops had achieved none of their objectives: the Palau de la Generalitat, the Ministry of Governance, the Telefónica building and the radio stations. Meanwhile, a large group of citizens and republican assault guards had obeyed the appeal made by Commander Frederic Escofet from the balcony of General Public Order Headquarters to lay siege to the Palau de la Divisió. Next, General Goded contacted General José Aranguren, head of the Civil Guard, calling on him to join the coup, but Aranguren refused. Faced by this refusal, Goded himself telephoned the Ministry of Governance to negotiate his surrender, with the single condition that he would give himself up only to the Civil Guard. Officers and men were than taken to the Ministry of Governance. As for General Goded, he was taken before President Lluís Companys, who was waiting for him in his office in the Palau de la Generalitat.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
8. Barcelona City Hall
Barcelona City Hall is, with the Palau de la Generalitat (Government of Catalonia Palace), one of the historic buildings in the Catalan capital that have witnessed most episodes in the citys history. On 14 April 1931, for example, Lluís Companys took possession of the post of mayor and proclaimed the Republic from the balcony of the Barcelona City Council building. Nearly fifty years later, on 19 April 1979, Narcís Serra, of the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), was appointed as the first mayor elected democratically since 1939.
The municipal elections called for 12 April 1931 turned into a plebiscite between the Republic and the monarchy. The results were made public on April 14, with the opposition proclaimed winners. In Barcelona, Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) won a majority. On April 14, Lluís Companys took possession of the mayorship and proclaimed the Republic in Catalonia from the balcony of the City Hall, raising the republican flag. As news of this spread, euphoria broke out everywhere, and celebrations took place all over the city. The proclamation of the Republic was so joyfully welcomed because it represented the hope of a new, fairer and more modern Spain. Meanwhile, King Alfonso XIII went into voluntary exile.
The first municipal elections since the Civil War took place on 4 April 1979. In Barcelona, they were won by the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), led by Narcís Serra. On April 19, Serra took possession of the mayorship, after which the president of the Catalan government presented the emblems of authority to the first democratically elected mayor of Barcelona since 1939. The strategic objectives of Serras municipal authority was, firstly, to balance the citys finances, which had been seriously affected by misgovernment in recent years, and, secondly, to establish a new town planning model and a new municipal charter adapted to the new legal order. Moreover, the incoming City Council was also faced by urgent needs that previous governments had not satisfied, such as the provision of social services, a local health care policy, parks and gardens and sports facilities.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC, TRANSITION
9. Palace of the Catalan Government
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 Maciàs 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.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC, CIVIL WAR, TRANSITION
10. Bar del Pi
On 23 July 1936, representatives from several socialist and communist parties met at the Bar del Pi in Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol to form the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC). The Bar del Pi is still open today and, in 2001, a commemorative plaque was installed in the bar in 2001 to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the PSUC.
Following the Events of 6 October 1934, Catalan left-wing organisations set up the Left Front and a Liaison Committee amongst the various working class parties in Catalonia. This Committee planned the founding of the PSUC for 26 August 1936, but the uprising military that sparked the Spanish Civil War accelerated the process, and the four parties involved (the Communist Party of Catalonia, the Catalan Federation of the PSOE, the Catalan Proletarian Party and the Socialist Union of Catalonia) appointed their representatives on the first executive committee of the new organisation. Joan Comorera was elected as the general secretary of what was a Leninist party independent of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), as the PSUC became the Catalan section of the Communist International, breaking the latters formerly unchangeable principle of One State, one party.
During the Spanish Civil War, the PSUC became a key player. When, on 21 July 1936, the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias was set up, the PSUC took on the role of guiding opinions towards one main goal: to win the war against the fascists and establish a stronger democracy with more social rights. This was what led the new party into the conflict with CNT-FAI, which favoured the idea of making the revolution. The PSUC gradually rose to increasing size and importance: its 6,000-strong membership in 1936 rose to 60,000 the next year. The leading social and political position that the party enjoyed during the Civil War was due both to the organisational role it played amid the revolutionary chaos and the identification of the Communists with the aid that the Republic received from the USSR.
After the end of the Civil War, the PSUC continued to be active in exile. In 1948, the party gave up the armed struggle to continue the clandestine political battle. In the 1960s, after ideological and organisational restructuring, the PSUC became one of the most important parties in the anti-Franco opposition in Catalonia and, later, during the Democratic Transition.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
11. Parish Church of Sant Felip Neri
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri was seriously damaged during the bombing raid by the Fascist air force in the city centre of Barcelona on January 30 1938, killing 210 people and wounding 125. Part of the Parish Church of Sant Felip Neri collapsed, causing the death of several children from the neighbourhood and the rest of Spain who had taken refuge there.
On January 30, the people of Barcelona awoke to the sound of air-raid sirens, which continued to be heard until noon. The first bombing raid began at 9 pm, the second at around 11.30. The bombs that the planes dropped were high power, with enormous destructive power, some weighing 250 kg. The site worst affected by these attacks was the old town, between the Catalan Parliament and Barcelona Cathedral. It is likely that the target was to destroy the Palau de la Generalitat, which was not, in fact, damaged.
One of the worst affected points was Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, where a shelter had been built under the sacristy of the church. Here, the Child Protection agency was in charge of a score or more children from the rest of Spain, who had come to the city as refugees, and a group of local children. The roof of this shelter looked as if it were made of stone, like the walls, but it was a false ceiling built from tiles and, when a shell hit it, the whole structure collapsed. Two other buildings in the square were also destroyed, and the church front was pockmarked by shrapnel from the bombs, as we can still see today. After the war, the Franco regime authorities spread the idea that these marks were the result of executions by firing squad carried out by the Republic.
After this bombing raid, in which more than 200 people were killed, attempts were made to negotiate in order to prevent such indiscriminate attacks. The Republican Government urged the British Government to persuade the international community to warn the fascist forces. As a result, there were practically no similar raids in February, but new and larger raids began again in March.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
12. Barcelona Cathedral
In the early hours of 19 July 1938, six Italian airplanes bombed the city. The raid caused three deaths and the destruction of the Dome of Santa Eulàlia in Barcelona Cathedral.
At 2.30 pm on July 19, six Italian Savoia S.81 planes began a raid on Barcelona, which was followed by another attack at 4.15 pm. In the area worst affected, a 150 kg bomb fell on the Dome of Santa Eulàlia in Barcelona Cathedral, a 13th-century Gothic work and outstanding symbol of the city.
During the war, and at the initiative of Carles Pi i Sunyer, Ministry of Culture in the Catalan Government and former mayor of Barcelona, a series of measures were implemented to protect the citys cultural and artistic heritage. This prevented uncontrolled groups from burning down religious buildings such as the Monastery of Pedralbes and the Cathedral, but it was not possible to safeguard heritage against enemy air raids. Nonetheless, works were carried out to protect certain monuments and façades, preventing them from shrapnel damage.
The tomb of Saint Eulàlia was not affected by the bombing of the Cathedral, but damage was caused to one of the interior arches, the choir, several side chapels and many staned-glass windows, which were shattered by the force of the explosion, as well as several art works. After the Civil War, the area around the Cathedral was redeveloped due to the destruction that had been caused. Avinguda de la Catedral was considerably widened, and several outstanding buildings were transferred, stone by stone, to new sites in the Gothic Quarter.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
A walk around working-class Gràcia noting the marks left by the Civil War and the democratic transition, ending at a monument whose significance has changed over time.
1. “Women of 36” square
Plaça de les Dones del 36 is dedicated to the “Women of 36”, a generic term that refers to all the women and children of courage who were affected by the Second Republic, the Civil War, Francoist repression and even the Nazi horror. Citizens who played their part in defending republican legality, freedoms, democratic values and women’s rights.
During the Second Republic (1931-1939), this heterogeneous women’s group campaigned for a fairer, more equal society in several fields: education, politics, unions, etc. During the Civil War (1936-1939), the group played an active role in defending freedoms, both at the front and in the rearguard. Finally, during the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), they suffered repression at the hands of the regime, and many were imprisoned. The association
“Les Dones del 36” [“Women of 36”] was founded in 1997 with a view to bringing together different female voices that had played a leading role in defending such values. After decades of silence imposed by the dictatorship and the early years of democracy, these anonymous fighters were given a space from which to transmit their experience to citizens, particularly the younger generations. The association was formed by women between 60 and 80 years (most in their 60s) that had been in the militias, or worked as nurses, or factory workers to replace men at the front, or had been exiled or members of left-wing political parties, etc. The group originally formed as a one-year project but, after receiving Barcelona City Council’s annual Maria Aurèlia Capmany Prize in 1997, their work was able to continue for another ten years, until the advanced age of the members forced them to retire.
This square was officially opened in August 2009, not without controversy, as the local residents interpreted the fence that was locked around it at night prevented free use of the public space. The members of the association “Les dones del 36” also lodged a formal complaint with the City Council, noting that the fence was reminiscent of repression under Franco. Despite these criticisms, since it was inaugurated the square has become an important venue for cultural and civic events in the Gràcia neighbourhood.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
2. Air raid shelter in Plaça del Diamant
More than 1,400 air-raid shelters were built in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to protect the population against Fascist bombing. The shelter in Plaça del Diamant, built by local residents, was 12 metres deep.
The air raid shelter in Plaça del Diamant, which was dug using picks and shovels, was one of the largest in the city. It was formed by a 250-metre network of tunnels that stretched under both the square and Carrer de les Guilleries, and had capacity for around 200 people. The walls were lined with brick and, as in most shelters built in Barcelona, the Catalan arch system was used in construction. The facilities included stone benches, lavatories and a small infirmary.
The shelter was rediscovered in 1992, when a power station was built and, thanks to the petition of local people was conserved an opened to the public with clear educational purposes. During rehabilitation work, the second entrance was also restored and a new lighting system was installed. Two glass skylights were also installed to provide light and ventilation. Today, Gràcia History Workshop organises guided tours of the shelter.
The square itself is an emblematic Civil War site. Besides housing the air raid shelter, its name was also used as the title for one of the best-known novels in contemporary Catalan literature: La Plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda. Set in the times of the Second Republic and the Civil War, the book is entitled The Time of the Doves in English.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
3. Air raid shelter in Plaça de la Revolució
From the underground car park, we can enter part of the shelter built in this part of the Gràcia neighbourhood during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to protect the local people from air bombing raids.
This air raid shelter, like most of the 1,400 excavated in the city, was built by local residents, who constituted themselves into a committee to acquire construction material and establish shifts for volunteer workers. According to the documents conserved, this appears to have been one of the best-organised shelters in the area. Once construction was complete, the Residents Council informed its members that it was operational. Residents had users cards that identified the entrance they should use and their seating number.
The shelter was discovered in 1994 during works to build the underground car park here. Construction did not stop, however, and the facility was almost completely lost apart from one section of tunnels that can be visited from the fourth floor, on request of the key from the car park attendant.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. Passeig de Sant Joan
The first great demonstrations after the death of Franco took place on Sundays 1 and 8 February 1976. In several parts of the city, the people took to the street chanting Freedom, Amnesty, Statute of Autonomy. One point where particularly large numbers of demonstrators assembled was Passeig de Sant Joan, where the police made their most violent baton charges.
A few months after the death of Franco, a large number of civil society organisations, led by the Federation of Residents Associations of Barcelona (FAVB), decided to take to the streets to demand that the government of Arias Navarro should embark on a real process towards democracy. On 1 February 1976, a demonstration was called to demand amnesty for political prisoners, whilst the following Sunday another march was held to call for the restoration of Catalonias political rights and national freedoms.
Although these demonstrations were banned by the authorities, citizens assembled in huge numbers to take part in the first demonstration, which was to begin at what is now Passeig de Lluís Companys (then Víctor Pradera). This led to police charges against pedestrians in that area. Word was then passed that the rally would take place at the crossroads of Travessera de Gràcia and Passeig de Sant Joan (then General Mola). According to reports from the time, between 4,000 and 12,000 people gathered at that point at around 11 am. The crowd marched to Carrer de Rosselló, where a large contingent of police forces awaited. The demonstrators sat down on the ground to show their pacifism, but the police charged nevertheless, with batons, rubber bullets and smoke bombs, and the crowd dispersed to other points in the city. Several photographers captured the charge on their cameras, producing images that now comprise historic documents.
At the demonstration on the following Sunday, February 8, confrontations with the police also took place at different points in the city and Passeig de Sant Joan was once more the scene of disturbances, with many people arrested and injured. However, Government repression did not weaken the democratic cause, but strengthened it. Over the following weeks, more and more sectors went on strike and many local authorities and organisations joined the call for amnesty. However, it was not until Adolfo Suárez was appointed as president that the first signs of opening up were seen: on 14 October 1977, the first democratically-elected Parliament finally approved plans to grant an amnesty.
5. Elizalde Factory
During the Spanish Civil War, the Elizalde factory in Passeig de Sant Joan, located between Carrer Còrsega and Carrer Rosselló, switched from manufacturing cars and airplane engines to making bombs and engines for the Republican air force. Consequently, factory was the target of Fascist air raids.
Following the outbreak of the Civil War in July 1936, a revolutionary process also began, which changed property relations, with the workers taking over a large number of companies until the end of the war. On 24 October 1936, in order to bring this situation under control, the Catalan Government approved the Decree of Collectivisations and Worker Control. Amongst other measures, the decree ordered the collectivisation of companies with more than one hundred workers, giving smaller enterprises freedom to choose.
In 1937, the Elizalde factory was collectivised, renamed SAF 8 and set to producing aviation bombs and Russian M25 airplane engines. Due to its strategic value, the factory was the frequent objective of fascist bombings. On 13 February 1937, Barcelona suffered the first of 194 bombings it was to suffer during the war, when the Italian cruiser Eugenio di Savoia shelled the city for the first time, killing 18 people. The Dreta de lEixample neighbourhood was one of the worst-affected areas and, in Passeig de Sant Joan (then Passeig de Fermí Galán), the Elizalde factory was hit by several shells, though it was not seriously damaged.
After the war, the Elizalde factory continued to make airplane engines. In 1951, the Franco Government ordered its integration into ENMASA, the national aviation engine company, and its transfer to a new site in the Sant Andreu district. The factory in LEixample was demolished and, in October 1964, a new residential development opened in Paseo del General Mola, with four blocks and 288 homes built at the initiative of a large banking institution.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
6. Cinc d’Oros
Over the course of the 20th century, the crossroads between Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gràcia has gradually become a historic memory site. Just months before the Civil War broke out, a monument to the Republic was unveiled here. Following the defeat, this was altered and dedicated to the Francoist victory. After the restoration of democracy, the name of the Square was changed to Plaça de Joan Carles I (king of Spain) but it was not until 2011 that the statue of victory installed by the Franco regime was removed.
On 12 April 1936, in the square known as Plaça Cinc d’Oros (due to the shape of the lampposts in the centre, which reminded people of the playing card of the same name), a monument was unveiled in honour of Francesc Pi i Margall, president of the First Spanish Republic. The obelisk by the architects Adolf Florensa and Josep Vilaseca was erected and crowned by, Josep Viladomats sculpture “Flame, representing a nude woman wearing a Phrygian cap, symbol of the Republic, and holding a laurel wreath in her hand. At the base of the monument, a medallion engraved with a portrait of Pi i Margall was installed. Just a few months later, during the military uprising of 19 July 1936, the Cinc d’Oros was the scene of the first skirmishes between rebel soldiers from the Pedralbes and Sant Andreu barracks and militant workers. The troops were dispersed, some abandoning their weapons in their flight.
After the war and the victory of the Francoist forces, Barcelona City Council renamed the square, which became Plaça de la Victòria, and the medallion and the Republican sculpture were withdrawn. The Falangist arms were installed at the base of the obelisk, along with the sculpture that had been placed second in the competition for the original monument. By Frederic Marès, this sculpture also represented a woman, this time with her arm raised. The obelisk was crowned by an Imperial eagle, for which reason the square became popularly known as Parrot Place”. The monument was inaugurated on 26 January 1940, the first anniversary of the occupation of the city by Francos forces in what was one of the first examples of monumental propaganda at the service of the regime.
After the Allied victory in World War Two, the Franco regime decided to withdraw many fascist symbols from the public space. In the case of the Cinc dOros, the eagle was taken down, and the site became known as Pencil Place. During the postwar period, the monument did not escape the actions of the anti-Franco movement, which attacked it on several occasions; and during the transition it was the scenario of several demonstrations in favor of freedom and amnesty. On 14 December 1979, after the restoration of democracy, a group of people pulled down the inscription in honour of the rebel soldiers and the Francoist arms. Finally, on 27 February 1981, the square was given the official name of Plaça de Joan Carles I.
On 14 July 1990, the original sculpture, “Flame”, returned to the public space, though in a new home: Plaça de Llucmajor in Nou Barris district, where it stands to this day. Some voices have been raised against the movement of this monument to a new site, calling for its return to Plaça del Cinc d’Oros, but residents in Nou Barris oppose this, arguing that the statue has become identified with the district. Finally, on 30 January 2011, in accordance with the so-called Historical Memory Law, Barcelona City Council withdrew Frederic Marèss statue of Victory from the base of the obelisk.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC, CIVIL WAR, FRANCOISM, TRANSITION
A route around one of the more hilly districts in the city, commanding superb views over Barcelona from Turó de la Rovira hill, where we can see the remains of an anti-aircraft battery built here during the Civil War.
1. Hospital de Sant Pau
At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan Government confiscated the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, which operated as a public hospital until the end of the conflict. During this period, the centre made important medical advances, particularly in the field of surgery.
Construction of the Art Nouveau Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, began in 1902. However the site was not officially opened until 1930, when the 20 pavilions, interconnected by means of underground passages, came into service. This distribution responded to early-20th-century hygienist medical requirements. The new hospital quickly won great repute due to the quality of its facilities and doctors.
On 27 July 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the war, the Catalan Government requisitioned the centre, which was renamed as the General Hospital of Catalonia and was run by the Ministry for Health and Social Assistance, which was directed by the anarchist Pere Herrera. This wartime initiative responded to the Generalitats determination to provide quality public health services to the entire population. The hospitals staff publicly welcomed the new administrative organisation and offered their full cooperation to the authorities.
During this period of public management, which lasted until 1939, great medical advances were made. An example is the war surgery method devised by Doctor Josep Trueta, head of hospital services, and which was later employed widely during World War Two. This was a method of treating fractures and open wounds that prevented gangrene and the consequent amputation of affected members. After the Francoist victory, Doctor Trueta went into exile, firstly in France and later in England, whilst several doctors at the hospital were purged by the new authorities and forcibly barred from their profession.
In 1997, UNESCO catalogued the hospital site as World Heritage. Today, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau houses various institutions and is open to the public for guided tours.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
2. Anti-aircraft battery on Turó de la Rovira hill
During the Civil War, anti-aircraft batteries were installed on the top of Turó de la Rovira hill, which overlooks much of Barcelona, to protect the people against bombing by the Italian and German aviation that supported the Francoist army.
During the Civil War (1936-1939), Barcelona was bombed on 194 occasions, several times by Francoist ships, but mostly by Italian and German planes, which supported the military uprising. Hitler and Mussolini used the conflict in Spain to test their weaponry with a view to the start of a new world war. The objective of these bombings was not only to destroy weapons factories and infrastructure, but also to demoralise and spread fear amongst the civil population in the rearguard.
In 1937, the Republican Government set up several bodies to coordinate air raid defences. Under the supervision of DECA, the Special Defence Against Aircraft, anti-air raid batteries were built on Turó de la Rovira hill to combat attacks by planes from Majorca. The hill, which stood 262 metres above sea level, was considered the best strategic point in the city for the installation of these defences. Seven batteries were built, along with facilities for officers and men: dormitories, a kitchen, and showers. The cannons used were Vickers 105 mm guns, which had a maximum range of 13,400 metres. In truth, these batteries were not particularly effective. Too far from the coast from which the airplanes arrived, they mainly played a dissuasive role.
After the war, in the mid-1940s, the site occupied by these batteries became one of the main centres of informal housing, with up to 110 shanties built here to house around 600 people who had come to Barcelona to seek work in Catalan industry.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
3. Monument to the International Brigades
The sculpture David and Goliath was unveiled in 1988 in memory of the International Brigades, military units established at the start of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with foreign volunteers from many different countries who came to Spain to fight for the Republic and against fascism, which was spreading throughout Europe.
The International Brigades were military units established in Moscow in October 1936 by the Communist International (Comintern), the umbrella body for communist parties around the world. The recruiting centre was set up in Paris, and the French Communist Party was placed in charge of organisation. Nonetheless, many of the foreign volunteers from 54 countries who joined the brigades were simply idealists recruited and sent to the Republic by the many committees set up to provide aid to Spain in different States. The aim was to give support to the Republic, which was under siege from forces that had risen against the legitimate government in a coup détat that had sparked armed conflict, as most of the army supported the rebel generals.
Many of these volunteers were workers, and most had received little or no military training. According to the most recent sources, a total of 35,000 international brigadiers fought in the Spanish Civil War, of whom 10,000 were killed in combat. The International Brigades also included many intellectuals, such as the British author George Orwell, who joined the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and wrote about his experiences in his book Homage to Catalonia.
The sculpture entitled David and Goliath is by the New York artist Roy Shifrin and represents the athletic torso of David on a column, with the defeated Goliath at its foot, symbolised by his helmet. The work was financed by the association Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, formed by US citizens who fought in the Civil War, and the US Spanish Civil War Society. The members of this association who contributed to the monument included Edward Kennedy, Woody Allen, Gregory Peck, Leonard Bernstein and Harry Belafonte. The sculpture was inaugurated on 28 October 1988, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the day when the International Brigades were given a send-off in Barcelona in a parade attended by huge crowds on Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gràcia.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. Pavilion of the Republic
This reproduction of the Spanish Republic Pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris was built in 1992, when the Vall dHebron neighbourhood was redeveloped in preparation for the Barcelona Olympic Games. The pavilion, identical to the one that represented republican democratic values at the fair in France, now houses a documentation centre on 20th-century Spanish history.
The Government of the Second Spanish Republic commissioned the architects Josep Lluís Sert and Luís Lacasa to design a pavilion for the Paris Expo in order to promote republican democratic values in response to the totalitarianism that was spreading throughout Europe. With Lacasa, Sert, one of the group of modern architects that took their inspiration from the rationalism of Le Corbusier, designed an avant-garde building with straight lines and unadorned façades, in stark contrast to the monumentalist architecture employed in pavilions representing countries governed by totalitarian regimes such as Germany and the Soviet Union.
The International Exposition in Paris was used as a chance to show the world what was happening in Spain, which was immersed in a Civil War caused by the fascist military uprising against the legitimate republic government in July 1936. The Spanish pavilion was a propaganda tool warning against the threat to world stability that a fascist victory in Spain would pose. The Second Republic called for the external support that was denied it through the Committee of Non-Intervention whilst the rebel forces received support from Italy and Germany, who sent soldiers, weapons and airplanes to the Spanish fascists.
Many renowned artists supported this propaganda push by contributing works to the pavilion. The works exhibited included: Alexander Calders Mercury Fountain; Joan Mirós mural entitled The Catalan Peasant in Revolt; and Picassos iconic work Guernica, which denounced the bombing of that Basque town by the German Condor Legion. Photomontages were also installed in the pavilion to illustrate the Republics social and modernisation policies, along with other pieces, such as a large portrait of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, assassinated by the fascists.
On the closure of the International Exposition, the pavilion was demolished, and the artworks were distributed around several countries. Some accompanied the artists that had created them into exile. Nearly 50 years later, Barcelona City Council decided to install a faithful reproduction of that emblematic building in the Vall dHebron neighbourhood, which was undergoing redevelopment to house some of the infrastructure required in order to host the 1992 Olympic Games. During the Games, the pavilion housed press rooms. The building was then closed until 1997, when it was converted into the University of Barcelona Library of the Republic Pavilion, furnished with a unique documentary collection on the period embracing the Spanish Second Republic, the Civil War, the exile, the Franco dictatorship and the Democratic Transition.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC
5. Les Heures Palace
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), this mansion, which now forms part of the University of Barcelona Mundet Campus, was the provisional residence of Lluís Companys, President of the Catalan Government. The site was considered safe from Fascist air strikes due to its location far from the city centre.
The Palau de les Heures, a French-style castle with four round turrets with conical roofs, was built in 1898 at the behest of Josep Gallart, a Catalan industrialist who had made his fortune in Puerto Rico, by the architect August Font. The building and gardens were adorned by many sculptures, one of which, in the main front, represented a woman and child surrounded by an ivy plant, which gave the site its name (heures means ivy in Catalan).
When, on 19 July 1936, rebel soldiers marched into the street and the uprising was quashed by citizens and forces loyal to the Republic, the conservative Gallart family the owners of the building, who supported the coup left the city to go to Marseilles with special authorisation from the Catalan Government. The Generalitat then requisitioned the estate, which remained uninhabited for more than a year. Finally, in April 1938, the Government placed the house at the disposal of President Companys, who had been forced to leave his own home in Rambla de Catalunya when it was damaged during an air raid. A 53-metre tunnel was made under the mansion, with a concrete base and brick-lined walls, to serve as a shelter in case of aerial attack. However, the estate was not bombed, despite the machinations of its owner, Josep Gallart Jr., who sent a recent aerial photograph to the fascist army with a letter reporting that Companys had taken up residence there, and demanding that it should be bombed.
Companys lived between the Palau de la Generalitat and the Palau de les Heures until 23 January de 1939, when an official car collected him at the Vall dHebron mansion in the middle of the night to take him to Girona, from where he went into exile in France. The day after the entry of Franco forces to the city, Josep Gallart returned to Barcelona and took up residence in the mansion, sharing its accommodation with the new Francoist mayor and personal friend, Miguel Mateu. In 1952, the Gallart family left the estate forever, having sold it to the builder Jaume Rius. In 1958, Barcelona Provincial Council acquired the property, which was reformed, taking on its present appearance, in 1992.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
6. Horta concentration camp
Following the occupation of Barcelona by Francoist forces on 26 January 1939, a harsh repression began against all those that had supported the Republic. Several provisional concentration camps were established in the city, where those detained were grouped whilst their final destination was decided. One of the largest was installed in the pavilions of the Casa de la Caritat in Horta, which operated for over a year.
The extension of the Casa de la Caritat, an association devoted to social assistance in the Raval neighbourhood, was approved in 1928. The project involved the construction of three pavilions for orphan children in the Horta district, but work was halted due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
When Francoist forces entered Barcelona, the unfinished Llevant and Ponent (East and West) pavilions were converted into a concentration camp. Here, thousands of prisoners were crowded together in appalling conditions. The camp, which opened on 10 February 1939 and was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, also contained interrogation rooms. There were, basically, three types of prisoner: republican soldiers who had either been captured or had surrendered; exiles arrested on their return from France; and those arrested as the result of reports against them or because of their political standing. An estimated 115,000 prisoners passed through the camp during the period it was in operation, most for short periods as, once classified, they were sent to other detention centres or were assigned to forced labour battalions.
The last prisoners left the concentration camp in April 1940 and, from 1942 to 1945, the site housed hostels for the homeless and patients with tuberculosis. Finally, in 1954, thanks to a donation of 40 million pesetas from the Mundet family, the original project for the Casa de la Caritat was completed. Now known as Llars Mundet, the childrens home was officially opened by Franco in 1957. Today, the site houses University of Barcelona facilities.
A walk along which we will visit a palace where kings, presidents of the Republic or Italian fascist leaders were housed and a women’s prison that became a symbol of Franco’s repression in the city.
1. Pedralbes Palace
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.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
2. Law Faculty
In 1967, the UB Law Faculty paid tribute to Doctor Jordi Rubió i Balaguer, who had been purged by the Franco regime and expelled from the university. The event, which took place despite being banned, was one of many civic and cultural activities organised by anti-Francoist movements.
On 3 March 1967, the Law Faculty, opened in 1958 on the Pedralbes campus and awarded the FAD architecture prize for its rational design, was the venue for a ceremony to pay tribute to Rubió i Balaguer, on his 80th birthday. Rubió was the first director of the Library of Catalonia, appointed to the post in 1913 by Prat de la Riba. Later, he set up the School of Librarians, whose director he was whilst he also taught literature at the University of Barcelona. During the Civil War, Rubió i Balaguer transferred library services from the war front and saved the heritage in the Palau de la Generalitat library by moving it to the Hospital of La Santa Creu. The Franco regime later purged him, and he was expelled from the university, the Library of Catalonia and the School of Librarians. Despite this repression, Rubió continued his intense intellectual and civic activity, aimed at reviving Catalan culture, and he refused an offer from the Franco regime to become director of the National Library in Madrid.
The 1967 homage was organised by university students and was attended by such intellectuals and leading figures as Pau Casals, Pablo Picasso, Josep Carner, Joan Miró, Menéndez Pidal and Bosch i Gimpera. The rector of the UB, Francisco García-Valdecasas, banned the event, but it took place just the same, and 19 participants were arrested and prosecuted, including Miquel Coll i Alentorn, Oriol Bohigas, Manuel Sacristán, Carlos Barral, Joan Oliver and Joan Coromines.
In 1969, the jury for the first Honour Prize in Catalan Letters awarded the accolade to Doctor Rubió i Balaguer. In 1977, he was a founder member of the Association of Writers in the Catalan Language (AELC) and in 1980 he was awarded the Generalitat de Catalunya Gold Medal in recognition for his lifetime work in the field of Catalan letters.
3. Les Corts women’s prison
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Catalan Government confiscated the convent, which stands between what are now Diagonal Avenue and Gran Via de Carles III, and converted the site into the General Reformatory for Women. In 1939, the building was taken over by Francos forces, who continued to use it as a womens 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 unions were repressed, women members of POUM and the CNT were held 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. In order to survive, the inmates established strong links of solidarity. 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 property development company, which demolished it to build a department store and housing blocks.
For more information: www.presodelescorts.org
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, FRANCOISM
4. Church of El Remei
This parish church in Les Corts neighbourhood was damaged by fire and used as a warehouse during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
The Parish Church of Nostra Senyora del Remei was built in historicist style between 1846 and 1849, according to plans drawn up by the architect Josep Oriol Mestres. The belltower was added fifty years later, in 1897. In 1936, following the military uprising and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, a group of angry local residents attacked the building, whilst another group tried to stop them and save some of the church goods. Despite these efforts, on July 21, people set fire to the church and the roof and arches collapsed. All that remained standing were the outer walls, the Chapel of El Santíssim Sagrament and the belltower, though these were also badly damaged. During the war, the chapel was occupied by a builders committee, which installed offices and stores here. The parish hall was destroyed, but part of the parish archive was saved. In 1940, after the end of the war, work began to reconstruct the church, and this was completed in 1948. Today, the site is known as the Parish Church of Santa Maria del Remei.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
5. Castells housing complex
The Castells Housing Complex is one of the few surviving testaments to the blue-collar past in the neighbourhood of Les Corts. Designed as a private urban development investment plan, it housed poor families in search of job opportunities in the industrial Barcelona of the 1920s. It turned into a hub of anarchism during the years of the Second Spanish Republic and the Civil War.
The businessman Manuel Castells opened an oilcloth and waxed fabric factory in 1874 in this area of Les Corts. In 1923, the widow of his son, Maria Dolors Barnola Grau, and his granddaughter Maria Castells Barnola began the construction of a housing complex for working-class families on nearby land they had inherited. The industrialist Vicenç Piera joined the project by providing a plot of land adjacent to his property, and so the Castells Housing Complex was demarcated on a block that comprised 142 houses, each approximately 30 square metres in size. The housing complex was populated with newly arrived families from Castile-La Mancha, Valencia, Murcia, Aragon and Andalusia, drawn by the demand for labour in Barcelona during the 1920s. By 1930 it was already home to 742 people. This high population density (5.22 per dwelling) and the seclusion of the surrounding land led to the forging of strong bonds of fraternity among the community.
With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, forces loyal to the Republic and much of the citizenry, led by trade unions and anarchists, took to the streets to defend Barcelona. Against this backdrop, the Castells Housing Complex became the focal point of the anarchist movement in Les Corts. Between 1910 and 1930, a network of organisations that shared affinities with anarchism such as the Ateneu de Les Corts [Les Corts Athenaeum] and the bar Los Federales were frequented by residents of the housing complex. The Les Corts Revolutionary Committee was also set up with the aim of defending the neighbourhood and the city in line with anarchist principles. Buildings such as the Carmelites’ Convent – today the Santa Teresa de Lisieux School – were transformed into the organisation’s headquarters and soup kitchen, Can Deu became a libertarian athenaeum and the Caserna del Bruc barracks in Pedralbes were occupied and renamed the Bakunin barracks. This very movement also gave birth to the Los Aguiluchos de Les Corts column, one hundred volunteers who went to fight on the Aragon front. Formed by residents of the housing complex, it included the member of the CNT [Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labour unions] Francisco Piqueras and the López Parra brothers, and by residents in the surrounding area such as Conxa Pérez Collado, one of the few female members of the column who over time became a renowned anti-Franco fighter. Others, such as the brothers Francisco and Fèlix Carrasquer, drivers of the anarchist movement in Les Corts, also went to fight at the front and later went into exile and were sent to French internment camps.
During the Franco dictatorship, the housing complex witnessed urban planning changes in the area. The 1953 County Plan implemented by Mayor Josep Maria de Porcioles established a new city model that forced industries to relocate or close down for the purposes of rezoning. This yielded major benefits for the real estate sector while densifying neighbourhoods with tall buildings. With the transition to democracy came the General Metropolitan Plan of 1976, a plan to remodel Barcelona’s urban space, which designated the housing complex as a green area. Said designation set the stage for the demise of the housing complex and its community life, and the neighbourhood had to accept that their homes were doomed to disappear.
However, it was not until 2002 that the Castells Housing Complex Urban Development Plan was passed, which scheduled its demolition, affecting 220 families. The first evictions and the subsequent demolition of the vacant homes commenced in 2010. The second phase was completed in 2014. Today, only the Passatge Piera passageway remains, standing testament to the physiognomy of the housing complex
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, FRANCOISM, TRANSITION
6. Monument to Josep Tarradellas
The monument to Josep Tarradellas, President of the Catalan Government in exile and first President of Catalonia when self-government was restored during the transition to democracy, was unveiled in 1999.
The street known as Carrer de lInfanta Carlota since 1929 (except for the period of the Second Republic, when it was renamed Carrer de Bernat Metge), was named after Josep Tarradellas in 1988, after the death of the former Catalan president in June of that year. Later, on 18 January 1999, centenary of the birth of Tarradellas, the monument that we can see here today was unveiled. By the sculptor Xavier Corberó, this is a 23-metre-high column formed by five blocks of dark stone, alternating with four blocks of marble, symbolising the four bars of the Catalan flag.
In 1976, following the death of the dictator, Josep Tarradellas, minister of the Catalan Government on several occasions during the Republican period, and President of the Generalitat in exile in France since 1954, began to intensify contacts with Catalan politicians in the country, though he was unable to establish an agreement for the return of Catalan self-government. Parties supporting the restoration of the 1932 Statute of Autonomy emerged victorious from the first democratic elections, held in 1977. In order to neutralise these breakaway forces, Adolfo Suárez, president-elect of the Spanish Government, recognised the historic legitimacy of President Tarradellas. On June 27, Tarradellas went to Madrid to meet Suárez and King Juan Carlos I. There, Tarradellas agreed the restoration of a Generalitat that would be independent of the Assembly of Parliamentarians, the body formed by the 47 deputies and 16 senators elected in the elections in Catalonia, and renouncing the 1932 Statute of Autonomy. On July 2, a protocol vaguely restoring the autonomy of Catalonia was made public and, on 29 September 1977 a decree was issued to recognise Josep Tarradellas as president of the Generalitat.
Finally, on the afternoon of 23 October 1977, Tarradellas arrived in Barcelona to an enormous public welcome, which culminated in his speech from the balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat that is remembered for his historic proclamation: Citizens of Catalonia, I am here.
Ribera & Barceloneta
This walk leads us to one of the most feared detention centers during the Franco dictatorship and to the coastal Barceloneta neighborhood, wich was badly damaged by air raid bombing during Civil War.
1. Palau de la Música Catalana
On 19 May 1960, during celebrations for the centenary of the birth of the poet Joan Maragall at the Palau de la Música Catalana, attended by four of Francos ministers, the audience began singing “El Cant de la Senyera”, the Catalan hymn banned by the Franco regime, leading to the incident known as the Events of the Palau.
In 1960, the Orfeó Català (Catalan Choral Society), with headquarters in the Palau de la Música, prepared a tribute to mark the centenary of the birth of Joan Maragall, which sought to be an act of Catalan nationalism. It included the performance of the anthem Cant de la Senyera (a homage to the Catalan flag), considered a symbol of Catalan nationalism and written by Maragall himself. On 21 April 1960, once the programme was approved, the Orfeó requested the necessary permission from the Provincial Information and Tourism Office to hold the tribute. Days later, the Chief of Police notified the Orfeó that the concert had to be postponed due to its content. As a result, the choral society decided to remove the Cant de la Senyera from the programme in order to keep the date of the tribute for May 19.
This was a time of many anti-Franco initiatives of a civic and cultural nature, which emerged in the mid-1950s, embracing Catalan nationalist affiliations, and some of which also had a clearly Catholic and generally conservative base. Between 1954 and 1955, for instance, the group Catalans Catòlics (Catholic Catalans) or Crist Catalunya (Christ Catalonia, CC) was established, formed by young Christians such as Jordi Pujol, who would later become the President of the Government of Catalonia between 1980 and 2003. This group played a part in the so-called Fets del Palau (Events of the Palau de la Música), which were to take place during the tribute to Joan Maragall.
That evening, the Palau with four of Francos ministers in attendance was teeming with police under the instruction of the Francoist authorities. When the time came to perform the Cant de la Senyera, a group of Catalan nationalists in the audience sang the first verse of the anthem and most of those in attendance followed suit. The police intervened immediately, beating the activists who fought back with their fists. Twenty-five people were arrested, then interrogated and tortured in the Prefecture of Police Headquarters on Via Laietana. Subsequently, there were other arrests, including Jordi Pujol, who despite being one of the instigators behind the protest, did not attend the Palau that night. They were subject to court martial proceedings and were held responsible for the events and the distribution of a pamphlet that criticised the dictator. As a result, Pujol was sentenced to seven years in prison.
2. Prefecture of Police Headquarters
The Prefecture of Police headquarters building was, from the start of the dictatorship to the end of Francoism, one of the symbols of Francoist repression in Barcelona. It was here that the forces of order interrogated and tortured the opponents of the regime, both men and women, that had been taken into custody
During the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975), the Prefecture of Police Headquarters was the base of the Sixth Brigade also known as the Political-Social Brigade , the Franco regimes political police established by law on 8 March 1940 drawing inspiration from the Nazi Gestapo. The Political-Social Brigade was responsible for the systematic and arbitrary persecution of anyone suspected of being hostile to the Franco regime. Eduardo Quintela and Pedro Polo were the most prominent leaders until the late 1950s. In 1963, Antonio Juan Creix was appointed head of the detachment and his brother, Vicente Creix, took over in 1968. Both of them became the figures most feared by opponents of the dictatorship.
The brigade carried out a fully-fledged political campaign to dismantle Franco opposition in complete impunity and without control by the legal system. The use of torture became their routine approach on the basis of which they compiled statements that allowed them to initiate summary proceedings or action by the Tribunal dOrdre Públic (TOP, Court of Public Order). The interrogations involved humiliation and threats, beatings and torture such as the bath, in which the head of the person under arrest was submerged in a basin of cold water. They were classified into specialised sections: University Service, Labour Affairs, Catalan-Separatist Activities, Communist Activities, etc.
The many operations carried out by the Political-Social Brigade included, particularly, the so-called Fall of the 80 in 1947, which entailed the dismantling of the communist guerrilla movement and propaganda apparatus of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC), as well as the arrest of some of the partys governing figures. The Political-Social Brigade also arrested Joan Comorera and Gregorio López Raimundo; Jordi Pujol on account of the Fets del Palau de la Música in 1960; broke up the Caputxinada (assembly and sit-in organised by the Barcelona University Democratic Students Union) in 1966; and violently dispersed the demonstration of priests in front of the Prefecture of Police to protest against the torture inflicted upon the student Joaquim Boix. Members of the brigade also played a part in the last crimes committed by the Franco regime, such as the execution of Salvador Puig-Antich in 1974 and of Juan Paredes, Txiki, in 1975.
3. Headquarters of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT)
On 23 July 1936, four days after the military uprising against the Republic had been halted in the streets of Barcelona, the CNT workers union occupied this building, formerly the headquarters of the Catalan bosses association, Foment Nacional del Treball. Due to the hegemony the CNT exercised during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the site became a centre of power in Catalonia. This was, for example, the starting point for the funeral procession in honour of Buenaventura Durruti, the union leader killed at the front on 20 November 1936.
The National Confederation of Labour (CNT), founded in Barcelona in 1910 on the principles of anarcho-syndicalism, played a very active role in the struggle against the military coup of 19 July 1936. From that point forth, it assumed a leading role sharing the limelight with the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), which led to the trade union being renamed the CNT-FAI. The victory of anti-fascism afforded political and military hegemony to the anarcho-syndicalists, therefore the power remained in their hands and a revolutionary situation ensued in which many residents, political and trade union organisations occupied buildings and premises. On July 23, the CNT occupied the building of the Foment Nacional del Treball (employers organisation) and the adjacent building (owned by Francesc Cambó, who, having fled to Paris, lent his support to the military-fascist rebellion), turning them into the headquarters of the Regional Committee of the trade union, known as the Casa CNT-FAI.
One of the most famous CNT leaders was Buenaventura Durruti, who participated actively in the revolutionary events in the early war period in Catalonia and who was a member of the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, an organisation created in July 1936 to organise the forces that fought against the military uprising in Catalonia and at the Aragon front. Soon afterwards, he decided to go to the front and form the Durruti column, which headed first towards Saragossa and in the month of November, towards Madrid, where he died of causes that are still unknown today. On November 21, Durrutis body set out for Barcelona, where they had prepared a funeral chamber in the Casa CNT-FAI. Throughout the night, crowds gathered outside the headquarters of the anarcho-syndicalists and on the morning of 23 November, a procession began that accompanied Durrutis coffin, draped in a red and black flag, to Montjuïc cemetery. The procession was led by the militiamen in Durrutis column, representatives of the CNT-FAI and the republican government, noteworthy among whom were the President of the Government of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Carles Pi i Sunyer. They were followed by relatives of the deceased and other left-wing party representatives. In the month of September 1937, the City Council changed the name of Via Laietana to that of Via Buenaventura Durruti.
Following the Francoist occupation of Barcelona in January 1939, employers retrieved the premises and Franco outlawed the CNT and expropriated all its assets. However, the trade union had a considerable presence underground during the dictatorship, both in the trade union struggle and the armed struggle, becoming the leading opposition force until the mid-1950s.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. França train station
Estació de França train station, formerly known as Barcelona-Término, was where thousands of immigrants arrived in Catalonia from the rest of Spain in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The Francoist authorities forced many of these newcomers to return to their place of origin once more. Previously, during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), França station had also been the departure point for thousands of people going into exile in France, fleeing from the advancing Francoist troops.
In the 1940s, unprecedented migration to Catalonia began, lasting three decades, mainly to Barcelona and its metropolitan area, which had an emerging industry. Immigrants arrived in their thousands, mostly from rural regions in the rest of Spain, but also from other parts of Catalonia, with the aim of finding work there given the demand for a workforce. Between 1955 and 1975, Catalonias population doubled in size due to this wave of migration, amounting to 5,657,800 inhabitants by the year of Francos death. Nevertheless, this immigration did not only stem from economic reasons, but also political motives as many people that had supported the Republic during the Civil War fled their places of origin to avoid reprisals by the Franco regime.
Most of these immigrants came to Catalonia by train, arriving in the railway station Estació de França. Thousands of immigrants from Andalusia came with the express train known as the El Sevillano, which ran across the Iberian Peninsula from north to south and east to west. Today, at the History of Immigration Museum in Sant Adrià de Besòs, visitors can see one of the trains carriages as a symbol of the major population movements in those difficult times.
In 1952, in response to this migratory phenomenon, which gave rise to large slum areas in Barcelonas industrial belt, Civil Governor Felipe Acedo issued a communiqué calling on town and city authorities in the province to prevent people without legal residence and work contracts to enter and stay on their territory. To implement this measure, the police took action in Estació de França train station itself, deploying both uniformed and plainclothes officers from the Evacuation Service. Once detained, the newcomers were transferred to the Palau de les Missions in Montjuïc, one of the pavilions built for the Universal Exposition of 1929 which was turned into a detention and classification centre for immigrants. Once identified and classified, the immigrants were repatriated to their places of origin from here. Between 1952 and 1957, almost 15,000 people were sent home having passed through the Palau de les Missions.
5. Barcelona Nautical School
The Nautical School building was occupied by the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, a body set up on 21 July 1936 (two days after the military uprising against the Republic had been quashed in Barcelona) to mobilise forces to fight against the rebellion in Catalonia and at the war front.
On 20 July 1936, President Lluís Companys, aware that the important role played by the working class in defeating the military uprising was on the brink of setting off a proletarian revolution, convened a meeting with all the left-wing parties and with the major trade unions (CNT-FAI), to find a solution to the countrys ungovernabilty. At the meeting, Companys proposed creating a new governing body that would bring together all the anti-fascist forces and that would act as a real government overseeing the struggle in Catalonia, i.e., the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias (CCMA). On July 21, the CCMA was established under the direction of the Government of Catalonia. The Committee comprised representatives of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), the General Union of Workers (UGT), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the Socialist Union of Catalonia (USC), Catalan Republican Action (ACR), the Union of Sharecroppers and Smallholders (UR) and the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM). Over the Committees existence, which lasted more than two months, this body organised working-class militias and columns that set out for the front, mainly in Aragon.
The organisation, whose centre of operations was the building that housed the Nautical School in Barcelonas port, was divided into several departments: Barcelona Militias, County Militias, Propaganda, Safe-Conducts, Supplies, Control Patrols, Transport, Health and Grants. The creation of the CCMA meant the institutionalisation of a duality of powers. The real power was held by the CCMA, which acted as the real government, while the Government of Catalonia managed the spheres of power it was granted by the CCMA. The fact that the CCMA assumed powers beyond the defence of Catalonia, which affected all domains of political, economic and social life, led to problems within the anti-fascist bloc. The major tensions were due to acts of indiscriminate repression against citizens that sympathised with the military uprising: well-off classes, right-wing activists, members of religious orders, etc.
The Catalan political class, from the Government of Catalonia to most organisations and political parties, took action to put an end to the repression. Finally, on 27 September 1936, the CCMA was dissolved and the entry of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC), the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and the anarcho-syndicalists (CNT-FAI) to the Government of Catalonia was approved.
The building that served as the headquarters of the CCMA now houses the Barcelona School of Nautical Studies, considered the oldest nautical school in Spain, and part of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) since 1990.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
6. Milicià Miquel Pedrola street
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the name of Sant Miquel street in the Barceloneta neighbourhood was changed to Miquel Pedrola street, after the local resident and POUM leader who died in action at the front. The plaque with Pedrolas name was covered over by several coats of paint during the Francoist dictatorship, when many street names in the city were changed, and was restored in 2010 in an action to restore the popular memory.
Today, at number 45, Carrer de Sant Miquel, there is an inscription that clearly reads Carrer de Miquel Pedrola, with an explanatory plaque underneath. This was the name of the street from 1937 to 1939, in tribute to Miquel Pedrola i Alegre, a prominent member of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) who died on 8 September 1936 at the front in Huesca.
Pedrola began his political career in the Iberian Communist Youth and later joined the POUM. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he joined the first columns of militia that set out from Barcelona for the front, with the rank of commander. He was killed in the attack in Casetas de Quicena (Huesca) and news of his death caused great commotion in Barcelona, as he was a well-known and popular figure. The funeral was attended by the masses, with many expressions of condolence from the public. In the Barceloneta neighbourhood, where he had resided and was well known, a tribute to his memory was held in October 1936, organised by the Joventut de la Unió de Cooperadors (Youth of the Cooperators Union). The streets name change was approved by Barcelona City Council and became effective at a pubic event attended by various figures on 21 February 1937. The street recovered its previous name with the establishment of the Franco regime.
This inscription was discovered in 2009 and, thanks to the mobilisation of historians and various residents associations and other organisations in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, the owners of the building, which was being remodelled, agreed to conserve and restore the plaque.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
7. La Barceloneta market
Inside Barceloneta market (at the east entrance) information panels have been installed to describe the damage caused by Fascist aviation bombing raids over the neighbourhood during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Barceloneta was one of the worst-hit areas in the entire city.
The Barceloneta neighbourhood was one of the hardest-hit by fascist air raids during the Civil War. It suffered several bombardments due to its strategic position next to the sea and fishing port, the location of the gas plant and workshops for the Maquinista Terrestre i Marítima (Land and Marine Engineering Company), which manufactured war equipment. Many parts of the neighbourhood were affected, including the Plaça de la Font, where the market stood and where today information panels recall those dramatic events. The intensity of the bombardments and large number of fatalities led to the provision of accommodation by the City Council for many families in other parts of the city, particularly uptown, where numerous apartments belonging to well-off families had been left vacant as their owners fled when the war broke out.
Amongst the air raids that affected the neighbourhood, particularly noteworthy is that of 29 May 1937 when a squadron of planes concentrated its operations on the Barceloneta, destroying numerous buildings and causing a high number of fatalities. In addition, one of the bombs destroyed one of the workshops of the Land and Marine Engineering Company, leaving nine people severely wounded. One of the missions was to destroy the gas plant which, fortunately, did not suffer any damage. On 1 October 1937, another deadly air raid took place; in addition to the bombs dropped by the planes, they shot into the fleeing crowd, particularly on Passeig Nacional now Passeig de Joan de Borbó and its surroundings. That day, twelve bombs were dropped on a school on Carrer de Balboa during class time. The bombing led to 87 deaths and 53 wounded. Another Italian air raid took place on October 19 that year which heavily affected the fishing harbour and dock in Barcelona, putting the Jaume I tower and the ports cable car out of action.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
We visit working-class Sant Martí to see the factories where major strikes broke out, and the shooting range where hundreds of political prisoners were killed.
1. Foment Martinenc
Foment Martinenc, a not-for-profit association that now organises cultural and leisure activities for children, young people and adults, was founded in 1878 by working-class people in Sant Martí de Provençals area. During the period of the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), the association extended its activities to become a reference for less well-to-do sectors in the neighbourhood. The present headquarters occupies the site where the original building stood.
Foment Martinenc, created at the initiative of artisans and workers with heightened social awareness, sought to offer instruction and knowledge to the residents of Sant Martí de Provençals, then an independent and predominantly working-class municipality which was not incorporated into Barcelona until 1897. The organisation also offered its members a space for recreation and culture with theatre performances, literary events and dance sessions in a designated hall.
The association remained on the sidelines of politics until 1931 on the proclamation of the Second Republic, when it afforded its explicit support to the government. Foment Martinenc then became something more than a place of instruction and social interaction. It also became a place for spreading the Catalan language (Catalan was the official language of the association), culture and traditions, as well as social awareness. During the time of the Republic, Foment Martinenc became a point of reference for the neighbourhoods working class sectors in light of its social role and the large number of activities it carried out, expanding its organisation of courses, lectures, concerts and plays.
Within the organisation, womens participation was promoted for the first time which until then had not been members and in 1935 the Womens Section was created, who would go on to exercise full rights with the associations structure a year later. As of 1936, the enrolment of members was regularised. Today, the Womens Section continues to be one of the pillars of the organisation.
During the Spanish Civil War, Foment Martinenc became one of the targets of the different political parties and trade unions in an endeavour to influence its social mass; however, its openness to all viewpoints and non-belligerent stance prevented the association from being identified with any particular group, despite its working class and progressive nature.
2. Hispano Olivetti factory
The site that today houses the Glòries shopping centre conserves the original structure of what was once the Hispano Olivetti typewriter factory. Workers at the factory protested to demand better working conditions and more pay on several occasions during the 1950s and 60s. These actions formed part of a wave of protests by the working-class movement, one of the most belligerent sectors in its opposition to the Franco regime.
In 1940, the company Hispano Olivetti acquired a plot at number 866, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (then known as Avinguda de José Antonio Primo de Rivera) to build a 2,700 m2 building. In 1963, the company already had 32,000 m2 and 3,200 employees, who were very active in demanding improvements for the working classes. Working-class unrest in Francoist Spain erupted in the mid-1950s, when the regime kept salaries very low and market prices were increasingly higher given the economic openness promoted by the government. Both the workers of Hispano Olivetti and those in companies in Catalonia and Spain called for an increase in salaries through several strikes that always ended in police intervention, arrests and dismissals. In the light of this situation, the Collective Bargaining Act was approved in 1958, allowing companies and workers to negotiate working conditions and wages, with the participation of the Spanish Trade Union Organisation (the only legal union in Spain under Franco, also known as the Vertical Syndicate)as the workers’ representative. In April 1962, in the mines of Asturias, a strike began that was heavily repressed by the police and which spread across Spain. In this context, on 16 May 1962, the workers of Hispano Olivetti initiated a strike to demand a daily salary of 175 pesetas and a negotiation of the labour agreement in force, signed one year earlier. The strike gave rise to many arrests and dismissals and, three days later, the workers returned to work.
On May 25, a meeting was held between the workers and the company in which the workers’ demands were negotiated and the political connotations of the strike “against the regime” were condemned. As a result of these mobilisations, in September 1962, Franco enacted the Collective Disputes Law which admitted the existence of labour disputes and a distinction was made between strikes for economic reasons and those for political reasons, both of which were considered illegal. In addition, on 17 January 1963, a minimum wage was introduced. In the case of Hispano Olivetti, this led to one of the most organised workers’ movements in Barcelona and the staff had a very significant presence in subsequent protests.
3. El Cànem factory
In Carrer de la Llacuna street, between Carrer Ramon Turró and Carrer Doctor Trueta streets, stands the front of what was once the El Cànem factory, in a building that now houses offices and a four-star hotel. When Francoist forces entered Barcelona on 26 January 1939, the citys prisons were soon overflowing due to the sheer size of the repression, and other buildings had to be converted into holding facilities. Accordingly, El Cànem became a detention centre for suspected opponents of the new regime.
In the second half of the 19th century, Poblenou became the citys main industrial district and became known as the Catalan Manchester. During this time, many factories began operating, particularly in the textile industry, such as the factory set up in 1882 by the brothers Bartolomé and Carles Godó, who also founded the newspaper La Vanguardia. The factory was popularly known as El Cànem (The Hemp), since it is a very similar fibre to jute, the product manufactured there. Two thousand employees worked there, particularly women and children in very harsh conditions.
In 1939, the Godó brothers, in a display of affection for General Franco, gave the space to the Francoist authorities for free, which was turned into a detention centre taking advantage of its two warehouses and outdoor patio, and also because opposite was a military barracks of the Civil Guard that could keep watch on the premises. Some 3,000 republicans lived in appalling conditions at the centre, with very little food, terrible overcrowding and a disciplinary regime characterised by constant threats and abuse meted out by the security wardens. Furthermore, they were forced to sing the anthem of the Falange party, Cara al Sol (Facing the Sun), every morning. It is estimated that nearly 11,000 republican supporters, victims of reprisals, passed through El Cànem, which acted as an appendage to the Model prison until 23 March 1942, when the last prisoners were transferred.
Today, on the pavement of Rambla del Poblenou, where it crosses with Carrer de Llull, there is a square dedicated to the Dones del Cànem (Women of El Cànem) in memory of the employees subject to extreme working conditions. However, there is no reference to those imprisoned there during the Franco dictatorship.
4. Camp de la Bota
The area used to build the site for the Forum of Cultures, which took place in 2004, was formerly known as El Camp de la Bota. This open space was used in the Spanish Civil War and, particularly, during the Francoist dictatorship, as a place of execution. It was chosen for this purpose because its location far from the city centre meant that the curious were prevented from witnessing the shootings that went on there. Today, a monument, Fraternity, has been erected on the site in memory of those who were murdered at El Camp de la Bota.
On the site of El Camp de la Bota, located on the border between Barcelona and Sant Adrià de Besòs, a castle was built in 1858 to establish an artillery school that operated until the Second Republic. From 1925, this area of the city was transformed into one of the many slums of Barcelona where immigrants that arrived in the city settled in the hope of finding work and a better life.
At the outset of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the firing range at El Camp de la Bota was the location chosen by the Republican government to execute 44 soldiers accused of rebelling against the legitimate authorities during the coup détat in 1936. However, once the war came to an end, El Camp de la Bota became a note site of Francoist repression. The new authorities used the grounds for number executions of those subject to court martial proceedings and sentenced to death for military rebellion, basically members of political parties, trade unions and organisations that had lent support to the Republic. Specialised sources claim that a total of 3,385 people were executed in Catalonia after the war, of whom almost 1,700 were killed at El Camp de la Bota. Many of the executions were carried out between 1939 and 1940.
Those sentenced to death learned of their fate a few hours before their death and were transported by truck from the various detention centres to El Camp de la Bota. Once shot, they were taken to Montjuïc cemetery and buried in the mass grave known as Fossar de la Pedrera. Beforehand, an army doctor certified the death with a document which generally stated internal bleeding as the cause of death without specifying its cause. The celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress in Barcelona in 1952 put an end to this practice at El Camp de la Bota, in an endeavour to clean up the regimes image.
In 1992, the monument Fraternity, a work by Miquel Navarro, was erected in tribute to those dead in this place. At the bottom is a plaque which was initially dedicated to the victims of the Civil War, though in 2004 the inscription was replaced with a dedication to those shot between 1936 and 1952, that is to say, the victims of the war and the Francoist dictatorship. Also, in 2013 a plaque in memory of the citizens of Barcelona who for years lived in shacks in this area of the city was placed in front of the blue building of the Natural History Museum. Moreover, in the part of El Camp de la Bota belonging to Sant Adrià de Besòs, an information panel was erected in 2010 to mark the spot of the firing parapet and a ceremony to pay tribute to the victims took place.
A route to discover how the working classes built the revolution during the Civil War and how the Franco dictatorship repressed women who did not accept its doctrines.
1. Pegaso factory
The former Pegaso truck factory, which stood at this point in La Sagrera neighbourhood, was the scene of several workers protests in the 1950s and 60s, during the Francoist dictatorship. The workers movement was one of the sectors that most vehemently opposed the regime. In the 1970s, moreover, La Sagrera was the scene of demonstrations by residents demanding that the site left by the factory when it was transferred to the Zona Franca should be used for social purposes.
In 1951, employees of the Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A. (ENASA, a vehicle manufacturing company), known as Pegaso, joined the general strike convened in the month of March. A strong workers movement emerged that demanded wage increases and improved working conditions, but which also opposed a dictatorship that gave preferential treatment to employers to the detriment of workers rights. Throughout the 1950s, many protests took place at the Pegaso that ended in police intervention in the factory and the arrest of workers. In 1956, a strike was staged to demand an eight-hour day, a decent salary and unemployment insurance. In the month of March 1958, the workers joined the strike in solidarity with the miners in Asturias that had mobilised against the wage freeze, which led to retribution such as the closure of the factory, with the consequent suspension of pay, and dismissals.
During the 1960s, workers were very active in voicing their grievances. In 1962, there was a stoppage in solidarity with the miners that had been dismissed after a strike. The protest was followed by workers across Spain, 50,000 of whom were in Catalonia, and workers in Pegaso joined in calling for the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement that had been postponed since 1958. This led to the closure of the factory for a fortnight and the dismissal of four employees.
In 1971, the factorys move to the Zona Franca district commenced and the residents mobilised to recover the space and afford it a social function. They demanded a school and a park for the neighbourhoods of La Sagrera and Sant Andreu. In 1975, ENASA sold half the land to a real estate company that rapidly constructed apartments there; the other half belonged to the city. Residents were constant in their demands during that time and, finally, in 1976, the City Council began the construction of a school that was to become one of the largest in Barcelona with six classes in each year. In 1986, the park was officially opened which is still there today; one of its entry points still has the old entrance to the Pegaso factory. A plaque was installed in memory of the workers who fought for freedom and welfare during the Franco regime.
PERIOD: FRANCOSIM, TRANSITION
2. Church of Sant Pacià
During the Spanish Civil War, the Church of Sant Pacià was converted into a hospital and soup kitchen.
The Church of Sant Pacià was built in 1895, the work of the architect Joan Torras i Guardiola. Antoni Gaudí, then a young architect of 27 years of age, designed the floor mosaic and the interior decoration of the church. During the Setmana Tràgica (Tragic Week, 1909), it was set alight, but not during the Spanish Civil War thanks to the action of residents that protected it, since the priest was held in high esteem in the community.
Like other religious sites in the city, during the armed conflict, it served a different public use other than a place of worship. Sant Pacià was turned into a hospital and also a soup kitchen, christened the Menjadors Durruti, where free meals were served daily to the public to cope with the shortages of the war period. The rectory was used as a private house and, at the end of the conflict, the Church recovered the entire site.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
3. Casa Bloc (Block House)
Designed by GATCPAC during the Second Republic with the goal of establishing a new housing model that would substantially improve living conditions amongst the working classes.
With the proclamation of the Second Republic (14 April 1931), new approaches to architecture were advocated in line with rationalist trends in Europe. In this context, the Government of Catalonia commissioned the Catalan Group of Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture (GATCPAC, founded in 1930) to develop a project to provide decent housing for the working-class population given the acute shortage of housing in Barcelona as a result of the flood of migration of workers in search of work in the metropolitan areas industry. On 13 March 1933, President Francesc Macià laid the first stone of the Casa Bloc, which was built in several phases until 1936.
It comprised five blocks arranged in the shape of an S to foster ventilation and natural light in the 207 duplex apartments measuring between 55 and 77 m2. They consisted of a ground floor with a living-dining room, kitchen, toilet, shower room and terrace, and two or three bedrooms on the upper floor. The ground floor premises were allocated to communal services: swimming pools, gardens, crèches, libraries and consumer cooperatives. With the arrival of the Franco regime, the building was spoiled with the addition of a block in a communal area in 1948, known as the ghost block, to accommodate the families of the national police. The south wing was allocated to residences for soldiers widows and orphans. Today, visitors can see a flat in the Casa Bloc as an example of the rationalist architecture promoted by the Republican Government of Catalonia.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC
4. Sant Andreu Artillery Park
This site in Sant Andreu district housed the Artillery Park which, on the evening of 19 July 1936, when the military uprising against the Republic began, was attacked and sacked by workers defending the legitimate government, who seized 30,000 rifles.
In Barcelona, the military uprising against the Republic began on the morning of 19 July and enjoyed the support of all the officers assigned to the artillery park in Sant Andreu. The only mission was to protect the large volume of arms (30,000 rifles) stored there. Defence of the building was organised jointly with the adjacent barracks and the military personnel accepted the voluntary collaboration of 200 uniformed Falangists and Traditionalists, armed and ready to protect the barracks.
As evening fell, when in the rest of the city the uprising had been stifled and the situation was under the control of the government forces, a large number of citizens led by anarcho-syndicalists of the CNT-FAI headed towards the barracks aiming to get hold of the weapons. They were aware that seizing the weapons would give them absolute power over the situation. The National Republican Guard, concerned over the fate of the weapons, could not prevent the attack and refused to confront the crowd. From that point forth, trade unions and workers took control of the street: the revolution in Barcelona had begun.
The Sant Andreu barracks, property of the Ministry of Defence, fell into disuse in 1998 and were demolished in 2004 except for some old military houses. At that time, urban regeneration of the area was planned, including the provision of public services and housing demanded by the neighbourhoods residents.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
5. La Trinitat women’s prison
In 1963, a new womens prison opened in the Trinitat Vella neighbourhood, run by nuns from the order known as the Evangelical Crusades of Christ King. Over the years, the inmates included, particularly, political prisoners arrested during the dying years of the Franco regime.
On 9 July 1963, the Trinitat womens prison was opened; it was to hold the 263 inmates and 19 children from the prison in Les Corts closed in 1955 that had been temporarily transferred to the Model prison for eight years. The centre was run until 1978 by the Croades Evangèliques del Crist Rei (Christ the King Evangelical Crusades), a religious order created in 1937 to keep watch over common criminals and female Republican prisoners. The Franco regimes initial goal was to redeem the prisoners of their sins but, with the reform of the National Prisons Service in 1956, the objective was to efface the prisoners ideology until they ceased believing in everything that had led to their incarceration.
The nuns in Trinitat prison, who followed a strongly fascist ideology, endeavoured to obliterate the prisoners ideas. Political prisoners were considered more dangerous than common prisoners since they thought for themselves and were more difficult to control. The nuns sought to make them lose their identity and to isolate them from the world by using psychological torture. In December 1975, following Francos death, 14 political prisoners in Trinitat jail declared a hunger strike to demand improvements in their situation and to highlight the discrimination they endured; however, few concessions were made for them. From that point and throughout 1976, the Barcelona Feminist Group convened demonstrations in front of the prison every Sunday to demand changes in the treatment of prisoners. Finally, in 1978, with the prison reform, the nuns were replaced with civil servants and the new prison regulations were implemented.
In 1983, the prison became a Penitentiary Centre for Young People intended for prisoners under 21 years of age. In January 2009, the demolition of much of the site began and a small-scale event took place to pay tribute to the women that had been imprisoned there during the Franco era.
A long route that leads us to visit an air-raid shelter, the castle where Lluís Companys was executed by firing squad and churches in which the working classes organized their struggle against the Franco regime.
1. Parish Church of Sant Medir
In 1964, Comissions Obreres, the Workers Commissions union, was founded in this parish church in La Bordeta neighbourhood. The establishment of this new union was a clear sign that the workers movement was organising in response to the lack of freedoms and harsh labour conditions imposed by the Franco regime. In 1976, an assembly convened to reconstitute the National Confederation of Labour (CNT) in Catalonia took place in this same parish church.
In Barcelona, the Comissions Obreres (CCOO, Workers Commissions) union was formally established in 1964 at a meeting in the parish of Sant Medir attended by 300 workers that had mobilised in previous meetings in the parish of Sant Miquel in Cornellà de Llobregat. This was made possible thanks to the emergence of core groups of permanent workers at the large metalwork factories and the formation of a new working class fuelled by waves of migration from the rest of Spain. Among the participants in the Sant Medir meeting were workers representing different production sectors. The CCOO defined themselves as a socio-political movement and not as a trade union. The goal was to bring workers together regardless of their ideology. From the outset, it showed a desire to act legally as opposed to clandestine trade union action while condemning the Vertical Syndicate (the only legal union in Spain during the Franco era) and to defend workers interests. The lack of rights held by workers was criticised and the creation of a list of demands was proposed, as was the need to call for the creation of committees across all companies.
On 29 February 1976, the parish of Sant Medir was the venue for the assembly to reinstate the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), an anarcho-syndicalist trade union founded in 1910 that had been banned during the Franco regime. At the trade union centre, which had been one of the major clandestine opposition forces in the dictatorship until the mid-1950s, from the 1970s nuclei of young and independent libertarians emerged that, together with former CNT members, made the reconstruction of the CNT possible. The Sant Medir Assembly brought together 500 people that debated several issues: organisational criteria, tactics for trade union action and the plurality of unions within the organisation. The CNT was legalised on 9 May 1977.
Both the creation of the CCOO and the reconstitution of the CNT in the parish of Sant Medir were made possible in a context of a working-class Catholicism that was a key component in the new workers movement that emerged in Catalonia in the mid-1950s. Working-class priests served in parishes in urban centres with a greater working-class population, while clandestine trade unions were promoted by Catholic militants. Therefore, Catholicism constituted one of the pillars of the anti-Franco opposition in Catalonia, alongside Marxism and nationalism.
2. Foment Republicà de Sants
In 1931, a number of left-wing, Catalan nationalist and Republican groups called the Conference of the Catalan Left. As a result of this conference, which took place in the Foment Republicà building in Barcelonas Sants district on March 18 and 19, a new political party was founded: Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia). The new party won the elections that took place on April 12 following the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic.
In May 1930, the weekly magazine LOpinió published the Republican Intelligence Manifesto, which was signed by republicans, Catalan nationalists, CNT trade unionists, socialists, communists and other groups that advocated a federal republic. The manifesto called for the establishment of a democratic republic and the need to bring together the different Catalan nationalist and republican political forces. Though the document did not fully materialise at that time, months later, LOpinió group and the Catalan Republican Party convened the Catalan Left Conference which sought to form a new unitary political force. On his return from exile, Francesc Macià and his party, Estat Català (Catalan State), joined the initiative.
On March 18, at eleven in the morning, the opening session of the conference was held in the Foment Republicà building in Sants, at number 7 on Carrer de Cros, where a commemorative plaque can be seen today. At this meeting, also known as the Sants Conference, the first ideas and groundwork were laid for the creation of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, Republican Left of Catalonia). All those in attendance expressed their desire to create a common project to compete in the municipal elections of 12 April 1931 and this largely facilitated the reaching of agreements. The new party that emerged from the meeting was to be the main Catalan political force in the Republican period, with President Francesc Macià at the helm. The Republican Left of Catalonia won the elections with 68% of Catalan councillors in coalition with the Socialist Union of Catalonia. Two days later, Francesc Macià proclaimed the Catalan Republic from the balcony of the Generalitat building.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC
3. Poble Espanyol Work Camp No. 1
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Poble Espanyol, The Spanish Village, a compendium of representative buildings from different Spanish regions created on the occasion of the 1929 International Exposition, was turned into a detention camp. Known as Work Camp No. 1, the centre was used to detain people arrested for supporting the military coup against the Republic, as well as deserters from the Republic army, militant anarchists and common criminals.
Poble Espanyol, work of the architects Ramon Reventós and Francesc Folguera, was to be demolished upon the conclusion of the 1929 Universal Exposition, but was eventually kept as it was well liked by the public. During the Civil War, it housed the Labour Camp Headquarters, which managed the Republican labour camps in Catalonia. The labour camps were set up in 1936 as a means to rehabilitate prisoners. The goal was to replace prisoners leisure time and idleness with work, which marked a qualitative improvement in the prison system. However, from 1937, with the creation of the Military Investigation Service (SIM) that coordinated the Republics intelligence services, the orientation of the camps changed and saw a toughening of conditions. Prisoners were forced to work in fortifications or in the construction of infrastructure.
Labour camp no. 1, established in Poble Espanyol, was the main detention centre in Catalonia. The grounds met the requirements to serve this function, since it was a good distance from the city centre and, as a walled enclosure, was isolated from the outside. The centre had two additional sites: the Palau de les Missions, also located on the hill of Montjuïc, and the Conciliar Seminary building on Carrer de la Diputació. It was mainly a place for regrouping prisoners that were later sent to other labour camps. Interrogations were often carried out in Poble Espanyol to obtain information on the prisoners activities before being permanently assigned to another camp.
According to testimonials, prisoners received proper treatment in this centre compared to other camps. Though some had to sleep in the open air in the main square in Poble Espanyol, most of them slept under a roof, they were allowed to work outside and were not mistreated by the security guards. In late January 1939, when Francos troops drew close to Barcelona, the camps prisoners were sent to the French border, accompanying the Republican army in retreat, as were 800 inmates from the Model prison.
Today, Poble Espanyol is a centre of recreation that brings together shops, restaurants and spaces in which to hold concerts and educational activities revolving around arts and crafts.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. Lluís Companys Stadium
The opening ceremony for the Peoples Olympiad was due to take place at this stadium on 19 July 1936, but was suspended due to the Fascist military uprising. Barcelona had decided to stage its own Olympics, which several countries had agreed to attend, in protest against the organisation of the Berlin Games, which Hitler used as a platform for Nazi propaganda.
In 1931, Barcelona and Berlin were vying to host the 1936 Olympic Games. However, the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic and news of riots across the country did not offer sufficient guarantees to members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who selected Berlin, which had become the capital of the Third Reich in 1933 with the Nazi partys rise to power. For this reason, Barcelona organised a Peoples Olympiad an event created in 1921 at the initiative of the working classes as an alternative to the Berlin Games. The goal was to spread the values of fraternity among the people through sport, and the initiative had a clear anti-fascist and inter-classist nature. This Olympiad was financed by the Government of Catalonia, the Spanish and French governments, and also received the backing of numerous Catalan sports, cultural and social associations.
On 19 July 1936, in Montjuïc stadium designed by the architect Pere Domènech for the 1929 Universal Exposition preparations were complete for the official opening of the Peoples Olympiad; however, the outbreak of the military coup against the Republic that day put an end to the event. In light of the new circumstances, some 200 athletes, in gratitude for the warm welcome they had received from the public, offered their support to the authorities to defend the Republic, even joining the citizen militias and enlisting in the columns that headed for the Aragon front. They were the first foreign soldiers before the creation of the International Brigades.
During the Civil War, Montjuïc stadium was used by the Central Committee for Refugee Aid as a shelter for those fleeing fascist repression in the areas in which the military coup had triumphed. During the Franco regime, the stadium was little used, with some exceptions, such as the Mediterranean Games in 1955. In the 1970s, it was to be demolished but public pressure saved it from this fate. For the celebration of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, it was fully renovated and the façades of 1929 were conserved. Since 2001, it bears the name of the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium to commemorate the President of the Government of Catalonia executed by the Franco regime.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC, CIVIL WAR
5. La Pedrera mass grave
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, 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 Francos 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 cemeterys 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.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, FRANCOSIM
6. Montjuïc Castle
Over the years, Montjuïc Castle has gradually become a space for memory. The castle is often considered a symbol of repression, since the city was bombed from the site twice in the 19th century. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), soldiers who had supported the uprising against the Republic were imprisoned and executed here. After Francoist troops had occupied Barcelona, the castle was a key centre for the repression brought to bear by the new regime. The site was turned into a military prison, and many people were executed here, including Lluís Companys, President of Catalonia.
Montjuïc castle, built in 1694 on a site where there had been a military fort since 1640, is a place in the city closely identified with repression. In 1842, General Espartero ordered that, from this point, Barcelona be bombed to quell a revolutionary uprising and, the following year, General Prim ordered another bombardment of the city. In the late 19th century, numerous workers were imprisoned and executed here that had taken part in acts of anarchist violence and, in 1909, those arrested during the Tragic Week were imprisoned here.
In 1936, with the outbreak of the Civil War, the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias a body created in the month of July to organise the forces that fought against the military uprising in Catalonia and at the Aragon front seized Montjuïc castle, therefore it came under Catalan ownership for the first time in modern times. The Committee sought to eradicate the memory of the castle associated with injustice and oppression and to turn it into a place that stood for anti-fascism and the defence of freedoms. However, it continued to exercise a repressive role since it imprisoned and executed soldiers that supported the military uprising against the Republic. As of the Events of May in 1937, when the central government assumed powers of public order and defence that until then had corresponded to the Government of Catalonia, the castle was turned over to the Army of the East and continued to be a place of repression. In the course of a year, 173 people accused of treason and espionage against the Republic were shot.
On 26 January 1939, following the occupation of Barcelona, the castle was taken over by Francos troops and turned into a detention centre, for Republican soldiers in particular. However, at the end of February, the concentration camp in Horta, where all the castles prisoners were moved, began operating. Therefore, it became a military prison exclusively. Though all the mass executions during the Franco regime in Barcelona were carried out in El Camp de la Bota, one very symbolic execution took place at Montjuïc castle, i.e., that of President Lluís Companys, arrested in France by the German occupation forces and handed over to Francoist authorities. Companys was executed in the Santa Helena moat on 15 October 1940.
The site continued to serve as a military prison until 1960 when it was given to the city whilst remaining under the control of the Spanish army. It was not until 2007 that the castle was handed over fully to Barcelona City Council, which turned it into a space for cultural activities and memorials.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, FRANCOISM
7. 307 air raid shelter
Refugi 307 is an air-raid shelter in the Poble-sec neighbourhood, built by the local people to give protection against bombing by the Francoist aviation and its Italian and German allies, which launched the first air raids in February 1937. Today, the shelter is conserved in perfect condition, and guided tours are organised.
Refugi 307 is one of the largest air raid shelters built in the city during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). It is calculated that more than 1,400 such shelters were excavated. The name refers to the file number received from the Junta de Defensa Passiva (Passive Defence Board) in Barcelona.
The construction of Refugi 307, which dates to 1937 according to the plans, was made possible thanks to the work undertaken by local residents, including children that took part in digging the shelters on finishing their school day. The shelter had capacity for 2,000 people, distributed among 200 metres of tunnels with Catalan vaults, measuring 2.1 metres in height and between 1.5 and 2 metres in width. The walls were largely covered with brick and whitewashed to mitigate the claustrophobic effects of being underground. There were three access doors to facilitate entry from the surrounding streets and to guarantee exit in the event of obstruction at one of the entrances. The access tunnels had a zigzag shape to prevent the devastating effects of explosions. Basic facilities were found in the central area, such as a nurses station and a fountain, as well as two toilets and several wooden benches fixed to the walls. Also noteworthy was a generator, used to provide the shelter with lighting during power cuts, a safer system than oil lamps. The walls had numerous information panels with the rules of conduct within the shelter.
Though Refugi 307 was considered one of the safest shelters as it was dug into the Montjuïc hillside, on the night of 17 March 1938, a bomb that fell near the shelter caused the earth to move, demolishing part of the shelter and killing two children.
Refugi 307 was opened to visitors on 1 April 2007 and is run by the Barcelona History Museum today, which adapted the space to demonstrate the horror of the raids and to publicly acknowledge those that lived under the bombs.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
A walk around the heights of Barcelona that will take us from the monastery where the Democratic Students Union was founded during the dictatorship to the parish church where the director of a well-known newspaper severely insulted the Catalan people.
1. Monastery of the Pares Caputxins de Sarrià
In March 1966, the constituent assembly of Barcelona University Democratic Students Union (SDEUB) took place at the Capuchin monastery (Convent dels Pares Caputxins de Sarrià) in an event known popularly as the “Caputxinada”. The meeting was raided by the police, who assaulted the monastery, breaking up the assembly and making several arrests.
In the 1950s, at this monastery in Sarrià, the Franciscan association came into being at the initiative of Brother Basili de Rubí, who made it a place of welcome for artists and intellectuals outlawed by the Franco regime. During the first half of the 1960s, factors such as the student struggle which sought to give a voice to university students and change the Francoist education system found the necessary support for mobilisation here. After various assemblies, on 9 March 1966 the constituent assembly of the Barcelona University Democratic Students Union (SDEUB) began here. Popularly known as the Caputxinada, it brought together 450 representatives from different faculties, in addition to journalists, lecturers and intellectuals.
Once the assembly had begun, the police intervened to break it up, but the participants refused to leave. During the ensuing sit-in, the statutes were approved and the Manifesto For a Democratic University was released. At noon on 11 March, the police raided the monastery, breaking the concordat signed in 1953 between the Franco regime and the Vatican, which prohibited police intervention in a place of worship. Members of the student council were arrested and tried by the Court of Public Order (TOP), which declared the union illegal. Eighteen participating lecturers were dismissed and numerous students were expelled from the university.
2. La Tamarita txeca detention centr
In 1937, the residence occupying what is now La Tamarita Gardens was converted into the nerve centre of the Military Investigation Service (SIM). This was where the detainees considered most dangerous by Soviet agents were interrogated.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, La Tamarita estate was confiscated from the industrialist Alfred Mata to turn it into a field hospital. Following the Events of May 1937, however, it became the centre of operations for the Military Investigation Service (SIM), the Republican governments intelligence agency during the war that employed repressive methods against the fifth column Francoist collaborators in the rearguard and fugitives, deserters and ambushers, who fled to avoid fighting at the front.
La Tamarita became a txeca (detention centre for political prisoners) where a large contingent of Soviet agents interrogated prisoners. Similarly, Trotskyist militants considered enemies of the Republic were also incarcerated here. All this in a context of war that combined the efforts of ordinary Republican courts with the shortcomings of the system in the hands of arbitrary and repressive decisions. An example of this were the interrogations, in which prisoners were often subject to all kinds of false accusations and physical abuse or torture as a means of obtaining information. When they declared what the prosecutors wanted to hear, they were often sent to the Peoples Court.
La Tamaritas main cell held 16 to 18 prisoners and, whenever this number was exceeded, detainees were sent to the prison vessel Villa de Madrid, anchored in the Port of Barcelona.
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
3. Sant Elies txeca detention centre
When the Spanish Civil War broke out, the Convent of Santa Maria de Jerusalem was taken over by the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), which converted the site into a detention centre, where those arrested by the Control Patrols were held. In May 1937, the monastery passed into the hands of the Republican Governments Military Investigation Service (SIM).
On 19 July 1936, after the military coup in Barcelona had been quashed, the Poor Clares left the Convent of Santa Maria de Jerusalem. The Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) militias then occupied the convent with the approval of the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias (CCMA) and turned it into a detention centre to imprison those arrested by the Control Patrols responsible for ensuring revolutionary order. This centre operated on the margins of the law, and was often used to detain prisoners before they were executed in Montcada cemetery.
The convent had a number of rooms in the basement that met the requirements to turn it into a detention centre. The place was isolated and had a large amount of space, a vegetable garden with farm animals, two towers and high walls that surrounded the entire site. After the Events of May 1937, management of this detention centre was handed over to the Military Investigation Centre (SIM). The work carried out by the SIM in the rearguard in Barcelona put an end to the fifth column Francoist collaborators and augmented as the Republic was losing the war and the phenomenon of ambushes, fugitives and deserters among the Republican ranks increased
PERIOD: CIVIL WAR
4. Mútua Escolar Blanquerna school
The Blanquerna Mutual School (today Menéndez i Pelayo secondary school), established in 1924, joined the Government of Catalonia system on 1936 and became a member of the schools run by CENU, the Council for the Unified New School; committed to a new teaching system based on the principles of rationalist work and human brotherhood, secularism, free of charge, equality between boys and girls, and no class differences.
The Mútua Escolar Blanquerna school was founded in 1924 by families of students in the Escola Graduada Montessori under the auspices of the Mancomunitat association of municipalities of Catalonia and was closed by the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in 1925. Its head was Alexandre Galí, from the Catalan nationalist right and a sympathiser with the Mancomunitat, which promoted education in Catalan and completed educational reforms, inspired in freedom and in the methods of an active school.
On 23 April 1934, the extension of the school on Via Augusta was approved in a building designed by Jaume Mestres, following the rationalist architectural model disseminated by GATPAC, which provided the space to students, the key players in education based on action and team learning, The building thereby moved away from the monumentalism and ostentatious features of schools built during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship.
During the Second Republic, Mútua Escolar Blanquerna continued as a private institution but, when the Civil War broke out, the institution joined the Government of Catalonias network of schools on 16 August 1936 and became part of the New Unified School Council (CENU) a Government of Catalonia body that advocated educational reform of the modern school , at which time it became a public school. This meant greater freedom of action in secondary education and co-education was established. On 21 January 1939, five days before Barcelonas occupation by Francos troops, classes came to a standstill and that very month the building was confiscated and the institution was dissolved by the new regime.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC, CIVIL WAR
5. Church of Sant Ildefons
“All Catalans are shit!” That is how, in 1959, Luís de Galinsoga, director La Vanguardia newspaper poured scorn on the Catalan language during Mass at the Parish Church of Sant Ildefons. The public response to this insult was a boycott of the newspaper. The campaign, which continued until Galinsoga was sacked in February 1960, was one of the first demonstrations of Catalan nationalism under Franco to make a widespread impact.
The insult proferred by the chief editor of La Vanguardia a body which transmitted the regimes values and implemented political indoctrination on 21 June 1959 in the parish of Sant Ildefons, was a protest because Mass was celebrated in Catalan. Thus began the Galinsoga affair, a campaign of boycotting the newspaper instigated by supporters of the Catalan Language Academy and the group CC (Christ Catalonia or Catalan Catholics), a parapolitical nationalist and Catholic movement that emerged in the mid-1950s. The newspaper lost more than 20,000 subscribers and sales fell by 10,000 copies daily.
On 19 January 1960, Luis Martínez de Galinsoga published Afecto y servicio a Cataluña (Affection for and service to Catalonia), an article in which he sought to demonstrate his affinities with Catalonia by affirming his friendship with Francesc Cambó and Puig i Cadafalch, which proved counterproductive as it ignited another counter-campaign by Catalan nationalist groups. Finally, the newspaper owner, the Count of Godó, in light of the financial losses, asked the Ministry of Information and Tourism to remove Galinsoga from office immediately. On 5 February 1960, despite some disagreement in the Council of Ministers, Franco announced the decision that Galinsoga was to submit his resignation. The victory of the Francoist opposition in this affair gave impetus to the advent of various anti-Franco and Catalan nationalist movements, which instigated other campaigns advocating the Catalan language and culture.
6. School of Nostra Senyora de Lurdes
In July 1966, this school hosted the first summer school since the Civil War ended, organised by the Rosa Sensat teacher training college. In this way, the teachers association revived a tool for pedagogical renewal whose origins go back to the year 1914.
The School of Nostra Senyora de Lurdes was established in 1880 in line with the guidelines set forth by the Philippian Sisters to evangelise and teach women to read and write facilitating their access to culture. This pedagogical vision upheld over the years allowed the centre to host the clandestine initiative of the Escola de Mestres Rosa Sensat (founded in 1965) in 1966 to organise teacher training over the summer holidays. The aim was to provide teachers with quality tools and methods whilst reviving the educational reforms that had been implemented during the Second Republic in order to address the shortcomings of the education they received in the official teacher training school under the Franco regime.
One hundred and fifty-four teachers from Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands, whose common denominators were the Catalan language and the willingness to renew their profession, attended the 1966 summer school. The methodology entailed analysing and sharing the experiences of teachers and students (teachers by profession). Emphasis was placed on the importance of having in-depth knowledge of the child to facilitate their integration into the countrys reality and society through teaching and in accordance with the characteristics of each child. Over the course of 1966, exchanges of experiences and opinions among teachers took place, the only possible means of redressing the profession in times of dictatorship. The initiative was repeated year after year and saw a steady increase in the number of participants.
In 1971, the Franco regime acknowledged the inadequate training of teachers and passed the General Education Bill that promoted educational reform and improved teacher training through the creation of the Institutes of Education Sciences. Thereafter, the Escola de Mestres Rosa Sensat was recognised as a private centre for teacher training and pedagogical guidance.
A route that reveals how the neighborhood struggle transformed this district, tells us why there is a place dedicated to the Republic and ends in a viewpoint with stunning views over Barcelona.
The Institut Mental de la Santa Creu was built towards the end of the 19th century on land far from the city of Barcelona. It was officially opened as a pioneering centre for treating mental illnesses, although the Spanish Civil War and Francoist dictatorship had an adverse effect on its operations, turning it into an obsolete and loss-making institution. Today the buildings that remain from that large complex house the headquarters of the Nou Barris District and other municipal facilities.
It was in the mid 19th century that the Hospital de la Santa Creu, which was located in the Raval neighbourhood, launched a project to build a centre for the mentally ill beyond the city walls. The psychiatrist Emili Pi i Molist came up with the idea for the new centre, following the progressive model that was being developed all over Europe. The complex was designed by Josep Oriol i Bernadet and built under the supervision of the architects Elies Rogent and Josep Artigas between 1885 and 1915, in the historicist style .
The complex had 12 wings and room for 700 patients. It had rooms segregated by sex and social class, a dining room, a kitchen, workshops, a library, an infirmary and pharmacy, baths, allotments, a theatre and its own church. It was the city’s biggest building when it was opened and became a benchmark psychiatric institution. Its patients were looked after by the religious orders of the Germans i les Germanes Hospitalàries de la Santa Creu.
The disastrous military uprising of July 1936 and outbreak of the Spanish Civil War unleashed a revolutionary wave that led to acts of violence against ecclesiastical properties. The Institut Mental’s church, which was dedicated to St Raphael, was ransacked but spared destruction. A film from that period, made by the National Labour Confederation (CNT), shows a group of militiamen inside the grounds, shooting at fascist soldiers. The militiamen pillaged its religious symbols and piled them up outside. The film is the first documentary of the building that we know of, although it has not been precisely dated and could be a re-creation of the events.
After the war, the centre continued to be run by Dr Torras Buxeda, who ran it from 1934 until 1960. At the start of the post-war period the Institut Mental suffered a budgetary and material deficit which worsened conditions for its patients. Added to that was the increased number of people diagnosed with learning disabilities during the Franco dictatorship, in response to the incorporation of national Catholic morality at all levels of society.
A movement began in the 1970s which denounced the social exclusion of mental patients, depriving them of their basic rights, and the arbitrary nature of their diagnoses. Numerous meetings were organised at the Institut Mental between workers and patients to examine the issue in greater depth. This renovation led to a reduction in the number of patients, and centres like the Institut Mental were no longer profitable. By then, work had begun on dismantling the complex, despite opposition from staff, the families of patients and some of the area’s local residents who found its closure counter-productive for the neighbourhood.
It was finally closed down in 1987. Most of the wings were pulled down, except for the main body and the first wing in the women’s section which today houses the headquarters of the Nou Barris District, a public library, a Guàrdia Urbana [city police] station and other municipal offices. Part of the land was turned into the Parc Central de Nou Barris and the rest was built on. The Església de Sant Rafael is the only element to have been abandoned and has suffered serious deterioration. Local neighbourhood groups are calling for it to be renovated as part of the district’s heritage.
PERIOD: SECOND REPUBLIC, CIVIL WAR, TRANSITION