• Resistance and Urban Resilience in Barcelona

    Sundus Al-Bayati
    May 3, 2022

    Sundus Al-Bayati is the 2019 recipient of the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship. All photographs are by the author, except where otherwise specified.

    Barcelona has been punished throughout history for being the capital of the autonomous Catalan community. Even the city’s urban form reflects a historical Catalan struggle for independence. After the end of the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), a neighborhood in Barcelona was flattened in retaliation for resisting the Franco-Spanish forces. Architecture is often used as an instrument of power, and especially during war, to showcase territorial control or mark a political shift. But the story of Barcelona’s urban transformation is not limited to a history of political and social subjugation. On the contrary, Barcelona’s development shows a city that has always been resilient and intentionally planned. I was searching for the traces of the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona, but I found myself as interested in earlier conflicts whose effects contributed to how the city developed across centuries. 

    From a Citadel to a City Park

    Only a small part of the medieval working-class district of La Ribera exists today in Barcelona. The district was razed after the defeat and capture of Catalonia by the Bourbons in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. The destruction of the district was not a casualty of war. The residential neighborhood was devoid of any military defensive structures. The demolition was ordered by Philip V after the war ended to punish the city and to clear a space for the construction of a new Ciutadella (citadel). The fortress stood at the current location of Parc de la Ciutadella for more than a century before it was demolished. However, lost parts of the Ribera district can be seen in Barcelona today. In 2013, archeological ruins from the medieval Ribera neighborhood were discovered during excavations beneath a 19th-century cast iron market, Mercat del Born. The excavations were part of a project to build the Provisional Library of Barcelona inside the market. After the discovery, the library project was relocated and the market was transformed to a cultural center to preserve and display an important recovered piece of the Catalan’s past. 

    view between two multi-story buildings

    people walk between two buildings

    archaeological ruins inside market building

    archaeological ruins housed in market building

    Figure 1–4, El Born Culture and Memory Center (CCM), Barcelona


    map of plans


    Figure 5–6, Plans of the destroyed Ribera district and the citadel that replaced it. Image from CCM, Barcelona.


    Not far from Mercat del Born, stands one of Barcelona’s main attractions, Parc de la Ciutadella, with its monumental fountain, Font de la Cascada. The park is a microcosm of Barcelona’s urban history since the 18th century. This was the site of the great citadel ordered by Philip V after the demolition of the Ribera neighborhood. The fortress, which was the largest in Europe in its time, was constructed to ensure greater control of Barcelona should a rebellion arise against the King. With the exception of Barceloneta, an area that developed outside the medieval city walls to compensate for the need for housing caused by the demolition of La Ribera neighborhood, Barcelona’s growth was limited inside these walls.1 For over a century, the Ciutadella stood as a symbol of control and subjugation of the Catalan city by the Spanish absolutist government and was thus hated by its residents. 


    tiered waterfall with dragon statues

    Figure 7, Font de la Cascaada, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona


    pond with people in boat surrounded by park land

    pond surrounded by flowers and plants

    fountain surrounded by park benches, building in background

    Figure 8–10, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona 


    The fortress was destroyed in the mid-19th century and the rest was turned over to the city council. The site was transformed to a public city park as part of the first comprehensive urban reform in Barcelona, the “Extension” plan by IIdefons Cerda in 1859. The development of the park was further incorporated in the urban transformation of Barcelona when it was selected to host the 1888 Universal Exposition.2 From a symbol of Spanish control and subjugation, the site of the former Ciutadella became the soil for a flowering of Catalan industrial and architectural innovation and expression. One of the most prominent buildings of the Exposition, still in the park today, the Castle of Three Dragons, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, is an example of Modernisme, a sort of Catalan Art Nouveau, whose most famous practitioner was Antoni Gaudi. Not all the buildings within the old Ciutadella were lost. The current Catalan Parliament sits inside an 18th-century arsenal building that belonged to the citadel, in the place where arms were kept to defend against a Catalan rebellion. 


    people walking in grass with castle in background

    front entrance to castle

    Figure 11–12, The Castle of Three Dragons, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona


    gardens in foreground, rooftop of building in background

    Figure 13, The Catalan Parliament Building, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

    Bunkers, Street Fighting and George Orwell

    When I arrived at my Barcelona rental, one of the first recommendations I received from my landlord was to check out the Carmel Bunkers at the Turo de la Rovira nearby. It has one of the best views of the city, she said. The hill was a strategic location for an anti-aircraft battery structure that went up in 1937, a time where a lot of bunkers were built quickly in Barcelona to shelter residents from the aerial bombs dropped by Franco’s Fascist allies during the Spanish Civil War. I had only been a few hours in Barcelona and someone actually mentioned the Spanish Civil War. I could already begin to see the difference in how the cultural memory of the war is dealt with in Barcelona compared to my experience in Madrid. In general, I found Barcelona’s cultural institutions such as Montjuic Castle, el Born Culture, and Memory Center or the Carmel bunkers, to better confront the memory of the war. 

    Confronting the legacy of the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona might be less controversial than in Madrid. Barcelona is not the capital and was not on the front line during the war. After Franco’s victory, Madrid, especially, was to communicate, through its urban form and architectural language, the image of New Spain and its Falangist principles. Franco’s takeover of Madrid, a city that has resisted a two and half year siege against his forces so that it became an icon of anti-Fascism, was ideologically important. During the Francoist era, Barcelona was neglected. Franco’s totalitarian regime suppressed Catalan culture and nationalism in Barcelona. The Catalan language was forbidden in government institutions and in the media. Autonomous Catalan institutions were abolished. After Franco’s death and Spain’s transition into a democracy, Barcelona was able to begin restoring its Catalan identity, which meant an automatic denunciation of the policies and decisions made during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. 


    people sit atop building overlooking city

    people sitting on top of building overlooking the city

    aerial view of city, shrubs in foreground

    concrete bunker with graffiti overlooking city

    graffiti-covered concrete bunkers on top of hill

    detail of graffiti on concrete bunker

    tree on hill with graffiti-covered bunkers behind

    concrete bunkers covered in graffiti

    round concrete bunker with low wall covered with graffiti

    Figure 14–22, The Carmel Bunkers, Barcelona

    From below, I could see the Carmel bunkers sticking out, covered in graffiti. The spot is popular among locals and tourists as a place to hang out or have a picnic and enjoy the expansive views of the city. After the war, a large number of informal settlements emerged in Barcelona due to the lack of housing and the disused anti-aircraft battery became the home of Els Canons shanty town until 1990. From 2011, Museu D’historia De Barcelona (Barcelona History Museum) has transformed the structure into a heritage site with indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces that walk through the history of the bunkers.

    After a week in Barcelona, I went on a Spanish Civil War tour led by a British historian named Nick Lloyd. The tour walks through sites in the Gothic Quarter, Placa de Catalunya, and the Rambla, where significant events and fighting took place during the years 1936–1939. When Nick asked us why we were interested in such a tour, few people had a similar reaction, that they have been in Spain for a while or multiple times and they haven’t heard Spaniards discuss the Spanish Civil War much. The beginning of the tour addressed the revolutionary and anarchist beginnings of the war in Barcelona and buildings that had become iconic during the conflict, like the Telephone Exchange building, where the clashes of the May Events started. 

    The May Events or the May Days refer to the five days in May 1937, where deadly clashes took place between the different parties and militias of the Republican side in the streets of Barcelona. The confrontation started when the Assault Guards, sent by the Republican government to take over the Telephone Exchange building that was controlled by the working-class anarchist CNT group. In Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell, who came to Barcelona in 1936 to fight in the Spanish Civil War against Fascism and was on guard in one of the POUM-controlled buildings during the May Days, describes this bloody and complicated confrontation. His account shows how the city was transformed into a battleground and its streets and buildings were divided among the different political factions:

    “What the devil was happening, who was fighting whom and who was winning, was at first very difficult to discover. The people of Barcelona are so used to street fighting and so familiar with the local geography that they knew by a kind of instinct which political party will hold which streets and which buildings. A foreigner is at a hopeless disadvantage. Looking out from the observatory, I could grasp that the Ramblas, which is one of the principal streets of the town, formed a dividing line. To the right of the Ramblas the working class quarters were solidly Anarchist; to the left a confused fight was going on among the tortuous by-streets, but on that side the PSUC and the Assault Guards were more or less in control. Up at our end of the Ramblas, round the Palaza de Cataluna, the position was so complicated that it would have been quite unintelligible if every building hadn’t flown a party flag.”3

    Towards the end of the tour, we stopped at the church of Sant Felip Neri. The façade of the church carries the scars of the war. Attached to the church is a convent where children sheltered from the bombardment by Franco’s air force on January 30, 1938. On that date, bombs fell on the square, damaging the whole building and killing 42 people, most of them children. During the Franco dictatorship, a different story was told about the events that took place in Sant Felip Neri square. According to Francoist propaganda, the marks on the façade were caused by bullets from anarchist executions of church priests. Today, next to the scarred façade, a black plaque reads: “In memory of the victims of the bombing of Sant Felip Neri. 42 people died here - most of them children due to the action of Franco's air force on January 30, 1938.”


    children play outside church

    children play outside church, fountain in foreground

    stone fountain and tree outside church, children playing

    dark metal plaque on stonework wall

    Figure 23–26, Church of Sant Felip Neri, Barcelona

    Unearthing a Roman Past

    Barcelona’s urban development was stunted under Franco, with the exception of one prominent project, the opening of the Avinguda de la Catedral (Cathedral Avenue) in front of the Barcelona Cathedral. In the map of Barcelona, it is one of the wide avenues that carves through the historical urban fabric, right next to the Gothic quarter. The project wasn’t envisioned by Franco’s government. The opening of the Cathedral Avenue was first proposed in Cerida’s renowned urban plan for Barcelona in 1859. Since then, it had been proposed and approved in multiple urban reforms. In each plan, the objectives were sanitation, improved circulation, and better views of the Cathedral. Critics of this urban intervention feared the loss of centuries-old residential and mercantile buildings and the network of narrow streets that gave the area a unique historical character. The bombs dropped by Franco’s air force during the Spanish Civil War flattened a lot of buildings that stood in the way of opening up the Cathedral Avenue.4 So when the war was over, the project resumed as planned. Franco’s interest in the project grew bigger for its economic potential and ideological implications for his regime when Roman ruins, discovered in the early 20th century, took a central importance.


    gothic cathedral with people in foreground

    Figure 27, Cathedral of Barcelona


    people walk in plaza among buildings

    curved wedge-shaped building with people walking on avenue

    people walk on plaza among buildings

    Figure 28–30, Views of the Cathedral Avenue, Barcelona

    In front of the Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona stood the Roman city wall that marked the northwestern edge of Barcino (Barcelona’s ancient name). In the early 20th century, sections of the walls that ran along Tapineria Street were discovered and their restoration and disclosure were completed in 1953.5 Although the area’s architectural legacy encompasses many historical periods, its Roman one was highlighted and selected for restoration by the new government. The revelation of Barcelona’s Roman past was a fitting message for the regime’s Falangist identity that liked to align itself with the Roman and Hapsburg Empires. The excavations continued following the path of the Roman wall adjacent to the Cathedral towards Placa Nova where two Roman towers mark the city’s gate. Further destruction of the old houses in between the towers revealed an ancient military belt, which formed the northwestern edge of the Roman settlement.6 Not only did the project destroy whatever stood in its way to expose the Roman ruins, a non-surviving arch that was part of the aqueduct that carried water to Barcino was recreated next to one of the towers.


    Roman walls and towers, people walking in foreground

    Roman walls and tower mixed with new construction, people in foreground

    Roman towers with new construction, people walking in foreground

    Figures 31–33, Barcino’s Roman walls and the two towers that formed the city’s gate


    reconstructed section of aqueduct

    Figure 34, A reconstruction of a section of the aqueduct that carried water to the old city of Barcino


    1Maclean, Robert. “Barcelona: A Case of Urban Palingenesis” In La Città Nuova: Proceedings of the 1999 ACSA International Conference, 29 May-2 June 1999, Rome, edited by Katrina Deines and Kay Bea Jones. Washington, DC: ACSA Press, 1999. 

    2 Ibid. 

    3 Orwell, George. Homage to Catalonia, 117. London: Penguin, 1989. 

    4 Muñoz-Rojas Oscarsson, Olivia. “Archaeology, Nostalgia, and Tourism in Post–Civil War Barcelona (1939-1959).” Journal of Urban History 39, no. 3 (2012): 478–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/0096144212443709. 

    5 Ibid

    6 Ibid

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  • The Hidden Scars of the Spanish Civil War in Madrid

    Sundus Al-Bayati
    Apr 5, 2022

    Sundus Al-Bayati is the 2019 recipient of the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship. All photographs are by the author, except where otherwise specified.

    On this traveling fellowship I have enjoyed the ability to access a host of masterpieces, pictures I’ve seen only in art history books or on a screen. Every time I stood in front of one of these works of art, I reminded myself of how lucky I am to be on this journey. Likewise, when I altered my travel itinerary for the fifth or sixth time to go to Spain to look at the effects of the Spanish Civil War, I was excited by the prospect of seeing artworks by prominent Spanish artists like Velazquez, Goya, and Picasso.

    Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is perhaps the most well-known artwork about the tragedy of war. When I entered the room where Guernica is displayed in the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, I was agape by the size of the painting. A collage in grey tones depicts a jumble of contorted shapes resembling figures and animals screaming in pain and sprawled on a canvas that measures 25 ft, 6in across and 11 ft, 5 in tall. The painting represents the bombing of Guernica in the Basque region by Nazi forces in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, but it could be describing the trauma of any war. 


    Figure 1. Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937. Image from: www.museoreinasofia.es

    The power of Picasso’s anti-war message in Guernica involves an embarrassing and symbolic incident at the UN where a tapestry reproduction of the painting is displayed. In February 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell headed to the UN to plead his case for the war on Iraq while Picasso’s Guernica hung behind him. His staff noticed the irony of Guernica’s anti-war screaming faces and asked to cover the painting while Colin Powell gave a speech about why they should invade Iraq. The New Yorker’s cover from March 17th, 2003, (three days before the Iraq invasion) captured this moment in history showing Picasso’s Guernica draped in red curtains.

    New Yorker cover with elements of Guernica

    Figure 2. New Yorker cover from March 17, 2003. Image from: www.newyorker.com

    During the Spanish Civil War, Madrid became a symbol of anti-fascist resistance, enduring a two-and-a-half-year siege, fighting against the rebel forces led by Francisco Franco. Madrid was the first major city in history to experience aerial bombardments of its residential neighborhoods and civilians, which was ordered by Franco as punishment and aided by German and Italian aircraft to extinguish the Republican resistance.1 For a city that was bombed and attacked for such a long time, it was surprising to find out when I got there that the traces of the Spanish Civil War in Madrid, a city that has become a symbol of resistance against fascism, were hidden and undetectable. During the Franco dictatorship, post-war reconstruction was a means to bury any evidence of Spanish resistance against Franco and his Nationalist army. By rebuilding destroyed residential neighborhoods like Arguelles, which was heavily bombed during the siege of Madrid, patching up ruined iconic buildings, and sometimes removing a building altogether as if it never existed, as in the case of the barracks of La Montana de Principe Pio, later generations would grow up unaware of the historical events that shaped their city. 

    The inability to read the effects of the Spanish Civil War in Madrid was not only the product of Franco’s censorship and controlled rhetoric but a characteristic of the amnesty law that was agreed on as Spain was transitioning into a parliamentary government following Franco’s death in 1975. For the purpose of national reconciliation, political parties on the left and right agreed to create the Pact of Forgetting, a law that prevented invoking the legacy of Franco and the Spanish Civil War, as well as not prosecuting war crimes committed during the war and the Francoist period. The consequences of this law permeate every aspect of Spanish material culture, including its post-Civil War architecture and monuments such as the controversial Valley of the Fallen in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, built by the dictator himself.

    My search for the traces of the Spanish Civil War in Madrid was proving difficult, but I was aided by a book that I’ve come across by two architects and professors at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Madrid Bombardeada: Cartografia de la Destruccion 1936–1939 (Madrid Bombed: Mapping of the Destruction 1936–1939). The book recounts the difficulties the two authors faced in their extensive research to piece together and map the damage inflicted on Madrid during the Civil War. It is supplemented by a large map of Madrid where instances of impact by bombs or artillery are registered in red, resembling blood stains. With a glance at the map, one is able to have a sense about the areas that were damaged most during the civil war. So, with map in hand, I walked around Madrid trying to distinguish what was destroyed and rebuilt and what was untouched during the war. For example, the Arguelles neighborhood, north of the Royal Palace, sustained a lot of damage during the battle of Madrid from being so close to the attacks that were launched from Casa de Campo Park. 

    black and white map of Madrid with red overlay

    Figure 3. Map illustrating the location and extent of the damage in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. Image from the book Madrid Bombardeada: Cartografia de la Destruccion 1936–1939.

    To understand the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the urban environment, I decided to look more closely into two iconic sites in and around Madrid: La Montana de Principe Pio, where the Egyptian Templo de Debod stands, and the Alcazar de Toledo, some 45 miles outside of Madrid. 

    Military Barracks of La Montana de Principe Pio (La Cuartel de la Montana)

    La Montana de Principe Pio is a hill in Madrid where La Cuartel de la Montana, a 19th-century military barracks used to stand until its demolition after the Spanish Civil War. The site of the barracks holds a symbolic significance for Madrid as the place where Spanish fighters in the Spanish War of Independence were executed by Napoleon’s soldiers in 1808, as it was famously depicted in Francisco de Goya’s painting, The 3rd of May 1808. The military barracks were built in 1860 following the Carlist Wars close to the Royal Palace.2 In 1936, the barracks were the site of yet another iconic uprising that propelled the Spanish Civil War in Madrid. A group of rebel Nationalist officers opposed to the Republican government sieged the barracks with a plan to march out, but their coup d’état ended after a bloody confrontation with Republican militias. 

    painting of man be executed by firing squad at night

    Figure 4. The 3rd of May 1808 in Madrid, or “The Executions,” Francisco de Goya, 1814. Image from: www.museodelprado.es 

    As the barracks lay in ruins, both the Republican government during the war and the Franco regime after the war targeted the site for ambitious and representative projects that sought to communicate their interpretation of the events of July 1936 and post-war Madrid. For the Republicans, the barracks were the site of heroic Madrilenian resistance against fascism and for the Nationalists, it was the place of the first dissenting voices. The government of the Spanish Republic had set up a reconstruction committee for the planning of post-war Madrid and the plan included a new parliament building on the site of the barracks.

    After Franco won the war, a new architectural style and planning were required to mark the ideological and political shift in Spain. Similar to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the architectural style advanced by the Falangist Party were the grand and monumental architecture of 17th-century Madrid that aligned a New Spain with the imperial Hapsburg dynasty. The planning scheme included a proposal to build the headquarters of the Falange party on top of the former barracks. In the end, the grand reconstruction project never materialized. According to Olivia Munoz-Rojas, Franco wanted to distance himself from the fascist governments of Hitler and Mussolini who expressed their ideologies through monumental architectural projects. In addition, Spain was struggling economically after the Civil War, which led to the abandonment of these grand plans. The site eventually became a public space and the chosen location to exhibit the Templo de Debod, a gift from the Egyptian government in 1968. The site joins Parque del Oeste to the north, where the frontline during the Spanish Civil War passed through.

    temple in background surrounded by park

    temple with two people on paved walkway

    trees and grass park set against paved walkway

    Figure 5–7. Templo de Debod and surrounding park in Madrid.

    Strolling in the park today, it’s difficult to imagine that one of the bloodiest confrontations of the war in Madrid took place there. The only physical traces that are seen in the northern side of the park are derelict remains of bunkers, nestled between the trees, with no sign or plaque explaining what they are or the charged historical legacy of this site. In Madrid, the legacy of the Spanish Civil War is well buried and curated by years of Franco’s dictatorship.

    deteriorating bunker among trees

    sandy parkland with bunker in distance

    bunker in backround surrounded by trees, park bench in foreground

    corroding bunker, sandy parkland with trees

    rows of trees

    old bunker on sandy parkland, benches in background

    bunker on grassy hill surrounded by trees

    closer view of bunker on hill

    Figures 8–15. Bunkers from the Spanish Civil War in Parque del Oeste.

    view of back of statue showing bullet holes

    front view of statue, Federico Rubio sits, woman presents her child

    Figure 16–17. Bullet holes on a statue of Federico Rubio in Parque del Oeste.

    The Alcazar of Toledo

    From Madrid, I took the train to Toledo, about 35 minutes. Toledo is a popular tourist destination for its preserved medieval layout and rich architectural legacy that includes a Gothic cathedral, a mosque from the 10th century, synagogues and the towering fortress, the Alcazar of Toledo, where the Toledo Army Museum is located. During the Spanish Civil War, the Alcazar of Toledo became another symbolic site in an ideological war. Between July and September 1936, Nationalists and right-wing groups and their families occupied the fortress and fought against the Republican forces as they bombed and destroyed most of the building. The battle to win the Alcazar was driven by its charged symbolic value rather than the need for territorial control. The fortress that dominates Toledo’s views was the royal residence of Spanish kings for centuries after they re-captured the town from the Moors in 1085.3 Before the 1936 siege, the fortress housed the Military Academy in Toledo. For the Nationalists, the Alcazar of Toledo is an icon of Spanish imperial history that cannot be lost to the Republicans. The extensive damage to the fortress can be seen in one of the Army Museum’s small rooms where a miniature model shows the Alcazar in its original state (plexiglass) and ruined state after the siege of Alcazar.

    view of river with stone bridge and city in background

    view of stone fortification, grassy hills, river with bridge

    stone walls surround city, river in foreground

    tall grass in foreground, grassy expanse with buildings in background

    Figure 18–21. Views of the Alcazar of Toledo and its surroundings

    The post-war story of the Alcazar of Toledo shows how architecture can be utilized to control the narrative of a place or the retelling of its history by those in power. After Franco won the war, the fortress was left in ruins and its image was disseminated and used in propaganda material as a memorial to the Nationalist victory.4 The restoration of the building started in 1950, many years after the war ended. Franco paid special attention to the reconstruction of the fortress establishing it as a tourist destination that celebrated Spanish victories, most importantly of which is the patriotic display of courage by the Nationalist rebels during the Siege of Alcazar.5 By turning the Alcazar to a commemorative space for his own conquest of Toledo, Franco aligned himself with Spain’s imperial rulers, strengthening his image as protector of Spain and further legitimizing the dictatorship. 

    exterior of Alcazar of Toledo, lightposts in foreground

    double arcade courtyard

    entrance with three-story facade with many windows, lightposts in foreground

    arcade with stone columns, stone floor, benches along wall

    second-floor arcade with black and white tile floor, stone banisters

    Figure 22–26. Views from inside the Alcazar of Toledo.

    Inside the Army Museum at the Alcazar of Toledo, I walked through many rooms that displayed weapons, apparel, miniature models of battles, and objects that celebrated the greatness of the Spanish Empire and its colonial reach. At some point, I was confronted with a crypt that contains the remains of Nationalist soldiers that died during the Siege of Alcazar, but I couldn’t find an exhibit that discussed the iconic event that led to the total destruction of the fortress during one of the most contentious episodes of the Spanish Civil War. I was surprised to find that critical history of the building was confined to one small room on the periphery of the museum floor under the name "The History of the Alcazar." When the Army Museum announced it would move from Madrid to the Alcazar of Toledo in 2003, it caused controversy that the collection would be housed in a famously Francoist icon.

    model showing ruins with wall text in background

    model with glass enclosure, ruins inside

    glass model with ruins inside

    glass model, wall text in and museum cases in background

    another view of glass model with ruins, museum exhibits in background

    detail of ruins inside glass model

    Figures 27–32. Model shows the damaged Alcazar of Toledo after the siege of the building during the Spanish Civil War. The glass containing the ruins represents the original building before destruction. Photos were taken at the Army Museum housed in the Alcazar of Toledo.

    diptych painting in wood frame showing Alcazar of Toledo on left, destruction on right

    drawing of damaged Alcazar of Toledo in white frame

    photos of destroyed Alcazar of Toledo and soldiers, maps and charts

    photos of explosion at Alcazar of Toledo, destroyed buildings, soldiers

    Figures 33–36. Representations and photographs from newspapers reporting on the damage of the Alcazar of Toledo. Photos were taken at the Army Museum housed in the Alcazar of Toledo. 

    Traveling to the Alcazar of Toledo cemented my understanding that the historical memory of the Spanish Civil War is still fighting to break from the controlled rhetoric molded by years of the Franco dictatorship. Spain is still unsure of how to treat its historical monuments that were built after the war and until Franco’s death or re-tell the story of Spanish Civil War from a different point of view in fear of opening past wounds, which means a lot of scars that were inflicted by the winning side remain hidden and unaddressed. My experience in Madrid re-contextualized my view of Berlin and its incessant struggle to understand and come to terms with its memorials and architectural legacy from the Nazi era and World War II. What is Spain going to do to face its past? 



    1 Bordes, Enrique, and Sobrón Luis de. Madrid Bombardeado: Cartografía De La destrucción, 1936-1939. Cátedra, 2021.


    2 Muñoz-Rojas Olivia. Ashes and Granite: Destruction and Reconstruction in the Spanish Civil War and Its Aftermath. Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2011.


    3 Raychaudhuri, Anindya. The Spanish Civil War: Exhuming a Buried Past. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013.


    4 Aronsson, Peter, and Gabriella Elgenius. National Museums and Nation-Building in Europe, 1750-2010: Mobilization and Legitimacy, Continuity and Change. London: Routledge, 2017.

    5 Ibid.


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