The Spanish Civil War was one of the bloodiest wars in modern European history. Unfortunately, it is not well studied and is often overlooked for the Second World War. However, you are in Barcelona, a city that was controlled by and supported the Second Spanish Republic during the war. They were ultimately the losers of this war, and the actions before, during and after the war are not generally understood or taken into context throughout Spain. Be aware that it is still a subject of intense debate and has been fueled recently by the independence parties- especially in Catalonia. Barcelona was bombed throughout the war and saw plenty of in fighting in the period called “Revolutionary Catalonia”. This challenge is to get you to see some of the areas that are well off of the beaten path and to discover some areas that played an incredibly important role in the war- but are often not talked about.
Montjuïc is a mountainous area that should be explore for all of its spender and ambience, as well as the scenic view of the city that it provides. However, on the side that faces away from the city is one of the most iconic cemeteries in the city. Here, a lot of the political prisoners that were killed during and after the Spanish Civil War can be found. Probably the most famous, the President of Catalonia during the republican era, Lluís Companys, is buried here. After the war, he went into exile in France, where he would be captured by the Nazis- extradited to Spain and later shot after being held at the fortress on Montjuïc. As with any type of cemetery, this should be a somber experience. Montjuïc is filled with some amazing parks and sites to see, but please be respectful while you are walking amongst the graves.
In our “Do It for the Views” challenge, we brought you to the top of Montjuïc in order to get you to see the city from a different view. With this challenge, we will get you to see a different side of history. The castle, or perhaps more appropriately named fortress, has been a strategic point for the city for a long time. It oversaw the main defenses of the city and was even occupied by the British during the war of Spanish Succession (1705), later Napoleon. would capture the fortress (1807). It overlooks the harbor and the city and can provide support in case of a siege or embargo. However, during and after the Spanish Civil War- it was used as a prison for political prisoners. The previously mentioned Lluís Companys, the president of Catalonia during the Second Spanish Republic, was held here in the dungeon before his execution.
This air raid shelter is a functioning museum dedicated to learning about the bombings of Barcelona during the war. Although the most famous case during the war of Italian and German bombing raids are in Guernica, in which Picasso made his famous painting depicting the destruction. Barcelona was no stranger to the Nazi and Fascist’s bombs and their effects were experienced thoughout the city. As a result, the city was forced to figure out ways in which they could protect the population and keep them alive during the raids. One way was to build air raid shelters throughout the city. Refugi 307 is one of those spots. Built for the residents of Poble Sec, it now serves as a museum. They also offer tours on the weekends and have a relatively cheap entrance fee, check their calendar and learn through exhibits that are in Catalan, English and Spanish.
Quite literally tucked away from the rest of the busy city in the gothic quarter in the San Felip Neri square. Upon first glance there really isn’t anything important or even spectacular about it. Satellite images of the square doesn’t really provide any idea of what it is or what has happened there either. During the war, Barcelona was the target of multiple bombings by the Italian Fascists. During one of those raids, this square was hit. There were 42 people that were killed on that day, mostly children. This is because the church that is a part of the square was being used as an orphanage for refugee children. Today it is still a childcare center Take a look around, and you will notice that the walls are still damaged, and they have been purposefully kept that way in order to preserve the memory of what had happened there.