Barcelona Civil War Tour
Image by Andy under Creative Commons License.

Spain, Barcelona Guide (A): Barcelona Civil War Tour

In the late 19th century Barcelona was “the city of bombs” due to the intense class conflict between the left (republicans, anarchists, socialists and communists) and the right (fascists, clerics, aristocrats and bourgeoisie). This conflict reached its peak in a civil war that was a precursor to WWII and marked the topography of Barcelona’s modern landscape. This tour will take you through acts that preceded and happened during civil war.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Barcelona Civil War Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Barcelona
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 14.5 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Fossar de la Pedrera   Montjuïc Cemetary   Francisco Ferrer Monument   Montjuïc Castle   Air Raid Shelter 307   Walter Benjamin Memorial Garden   George Orwell Square   The Liceu Theatre   Plaque Commemorating Salvador Seguí   Sant Felip Neri Square   Plaque dedicated to Andreu Nin   Monument to Francesc Macià I Llussa   Telefonica building   La Rosa de Foc   Statue of Fransesc Lairet   Passeig de Lluís Companys  
Author: Ariel Sheen
Author Bio: Ariel Sheen is a writer, historian, philosopher, international lecturer and semi-professional traveller. His academic research focuses on aesthetics, economics, film theory, Marxism, pedagogy, social conflict and technological development. When not doing this he enjoys traveling, practicing martial arts and creative writing. For more information on his projects visit
Fossar de la Pedrera

1) Fossar de la Pedrera

El Fossar de la Pedrera was one location of Franco’s politicide against those who fought against him during the Civil War. Being that it is remote from the main pedestrian thoroughfare of the city, and that it was close to Montjuic castle, the main jail for political prisoners it presented the perfect place to dispose of potentially unruly citizens. Over 4,000 people, republicans to anarchists, were buried here in unmarked common graves.

The entrance to the memorial has rows of tall...
Montjuïc Cemetary

2) Montjuïc Cemetary

Buried here are Bueanventura Durruti, Francesc Ferrer I Guardia and others killed for political reasons. Durruti, a famous Italian anarchist activist and intellectual, was shot and killed a week after entering into Spain and going on the front. Tens of thousands of Barcelonans marched in the streets past his coffin. The translation of what is on Durruti’s grave is “We carry a new world in our hearts”. Ferrer was killed before the war and singlehandedly started the modern school movement...
Image by Andreasklug under Creative Commons License.
Francisco Ferrer Monument

3) Francisco Ferrer Monument

Francicso Ferrer was an advocate of secular and libertarian educational reform in Spain. His writings and actions had a profound influence on the radical currents of his time and shortly after he opened up his Modern Schools in Spain, others sought to replicate them – the most notable being on in New York City.

Ferrer’s was arrested in 1906 following an assassination attempt on King Alphonso the 13th and later killed by firing squad following Barcelona’s tragic Week in 1909 despite...
Image by Ginosal under Creative Commons License.
Montjuïc Castle

4) Montjuïc Castle

Montjuïc Castle has served as a prison, often of political criminal, until the time of General Franco. The castle was also the site of numerous executions. In 1897, an incident popularly known as Els Processos de Montjuïc prompted the execution of anarchists and their sympathizers, which then led to a severe repression of the workers' struggle for their rights. On different occasions during the Spanish Civil War, both Nationalists and Republicans were executed there, each at the time when...
Image by Andy under Creative Commons License.
Air Raid Shelter 307

5) Air Raid Shelter 307

During the Civil War air raids from Italian and, to a lesser extent, German air forces killed over 4,800 civilians in Barcelona. The metro system turned into a de facto shelter from the aerial raids and some 1,200 shelters were constructed through out the city with such speed and efficiency that their operations were monitored and later emulated by the British.

As Poble Sec suffered particularly hard by the effects of bombing, a large air-raid shelter was built into the mountain. The space...
Walter Benjamin Memorial Garden

6) Walter Benjamin Memorial Garden

Today Walter Benjamin is considered to be one of the most eminent Marxist philosophers, but in the 1930’s his renown earned him enmity from the Nazis as well as the Stalinist NKVD.

Unable to move to America as Franco’s government denied him an exit visa and tired of playing cat and mouse with the Gestapo, he committed suicide four years after the end of the Civil War in the Catalan port town of Portbou. After Franco’s death, the government of Barcelona dedicated this small garden to...
George Orwell Square

7) George Orwell Square

On the morning of June 23rd 1937, George Orwell boarded a train from Barcelona to France posing as a wealthy English businessman as he was a fugitive hunted by the fascist forces they’d come to Spain to fight and the Stalinists who sought to appease the western powers by sabotaging the Spanish Revolution.

The Spanish Civil War is often called the war where the losers wrote the history instead of the winners. Orwell, then simply Eric Blair, was one of the members of the International...
The Liceu Theatre

8) The Liceu Theatre

During the second act of the opera Guillaume Tell by Rossini on November 7, 1893 two bombs were thrown into the opera house. Only one of the bombs exploded, but more than twenty people were killed, and many more injured.

Police later discovered that the atentát was the work of Santiago Salvador, an anarchist. This act deeply shocked the Catalan bourgeoisie and symbolized the turbulent social unrest of the time. Following the bombing there were a series of police raids upon suspected...
Plaque Commemorating Salvador Seguí

9) Plaque Commemorating Salvador Seguí

Salvador Seguí was involved with Solidaridad Obrera during the Tragic Week of 1909, the government negotiations which brought about the first ever eight-hour work day following the La Canadiense general strike, wrote the highly influential book Anarchism and Syndicalism and was a prominent member of the National Confederation of Labor (CNT). He was, in fact, secretary general of the CNT from 1918 to 1923 and a member of the pacifist faction that advocated the cessation of paramilitary training...
Sant Felip Neri Square

10) Sant Felip Neri Square

The Plaça de Sant Felip Neri is the most calm and delightful square in Barcelona as it is only accessible by two walkways not close to any main thoroughfares. Its tranquil atmosphere, however belies its tragic history.

On January 30th, 1938 an Italian air bombardment missed its target and hit the square outside of a convent when had been turned into a makeshift orphanage. 42 people were killed, mostly refugee children.

As the rescue workers pulled out the survivors from the building...
Plaque dedicated to Andreu Nin

11) Plaque dedicated to Andreu Nin

Andreu Nin, along with Joaquín Maurín, founded the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) in 1935 as a communist alternative to Stalinist Spanish Communist Party (PCE). Though initially aligned with the Trotskyist Opposition, he later broke with them. The plaque is placed outside of the Hotel Rivoli, which was once the base of operations of the POUM. The hotel, and Café Moka next to it, are places where the leaders of the POUM met to discuss politics and are described in George...
Monument to Francesc Macià I Llussa

12) Monument to Francesc Macià I Llussa

Francesc Macià I Llussa was a Catalan nationalist who founded the Estat Catala party in order to wrest government influence away from Madrid and led a failed coup attempt in 1926 to rid Catalonia of the Castillian forces interned throughout the city under General Primo de River’s regime. Francesc’s passion for Catalan nationalism is commemorated in the south eastern most point of Placa Catalunya.

It was Freansesc who first proclaimed the Free Catalan Republic after the 1931 elections...
Image by Jove under Creative Commons License.
Telefonica building

13) Telefonica building

While now just a bank and commercial offices above it, the Telefonica building was the site of intense fighting between the Catalan government troops and the C.N.T. and P.O.U.M. At the start of the civil war, the telephone system and the building containing it was controlled and run by the CNT. With mounting tension due to the loss of important battles, the Catalan Government tried to centralized and militarize all war-related operations and thus attempted to take the building by force on May...
La Rosa de Foc

14) La Rosa de Foc

La Rosa de Foc, or The Rose of Fire, is a bookstore and research library filled with everything you imagine related to the Spanish Civil War. Operated by the C.N.T., the bookstore is evidence that Barcelona’s radical traditions were not completely liquidated by Franco. In addition to the books, posters, shirts and other items available for sale here – the store acts as a community center hosting special events and discussions.

Open Monday-Friday from 10am to 2pm,...
Statue of Fransesc Lairet

15) Statue of Fransesc Lairet

A progressive Republican, Fransesc Lairet was very deeply involved in the municipal reform in Barcelona. He worked to create some of the first public, secular schools in the city and cut government waste by halting cronyism and opening up a bidding system for contract work.

During the Restoration, he worked with the Cortes, to assist Spain during it’s transition to modernity and also founded the Catalan Republican Party (PRC). Though a republican, Lairet was actively involved in defending...
Passeig de Lluís Companys

16) Passeig de Lluís Companys

This beautiful combination of park and large thoroughfare contains many statues of people who are Catalan nationalist heroes. Here you will find a statues of the 9th century Wilfred the Harry, the proto-Catalan, along side the Rafael Casanova, the 18th century jurist and later mayor who got the backing of Austria during the War of Spanish succession. For the purposes of our tour, however, we are concerned solely with LLuis Companys – the last president of Catalonia before Franco took over.


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