Barcelona Field Studies Centre

History Fieldwork in Barcelona: The Spanish Civil War

This Spanish Civil War study option is led by English teacher and historian, Alan Warren. Alan, who taught English and archaeology at the old University of Newport, moved to Barcelona in 2008. Alan provides a guided tour of revolutionary Barcelona, as seen through Homage to Catalonia. Nearly all the places George Orwell mentions still exist, and you can work out exactly what happened where and when.

Alan's tour of the Ebro battle field takes in scenes of fighting, including Cim (Hill) 705 - which has a memorial to British and Irish volunteers on the Republican side - a Nationalist command post and places that form part of the Memorial Consortium of the Battle of the Ebro Sites (Comebe).

The Spanish Civil War

General Franco's fascist troops invaded Spain in July 1936 in order to overthrow the democratically elected Republican government headed by the Popular Front, composed of liberal democrats, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists, communists and secularists.

The country was basically divided into those fighting for the government (Republicans), and those fighting against the government (Nationalists). The Nationalists were represented by the landed elite, Fascists, the urban bourgeoisie, the Roman Catholic Church, and other conservative sectors.

The number of war deaths is estimated at between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Many of those casualties were the result of brutal mass executions perpetrated by both sides.

DAY 1. George Orwell's Barcelona

Barcelona represents the one occasion in history when the anarchist movement has controlled a great city. Its experience during the Spanish Civil War is used as a vehicle to explore the concepts of anarchism, nationalism, socialism and fascism. The Spanish Civil War, a war fought for ideology, presents the world's best example of anarchism as a large scale political force.

Shrapnel façade, Felip Neri, Barcelona
Felip Neri, Barcelona

This day includes site visits in Barcelona and explores:

  • anarchist ideas and history;
  • the impact of the Spanish Civil War within the city of Barcelona;
  • George Orwell's Spanish Civil War experience in Barcelona.

SITE VISITS: George Orwell's sniper post on Las Ramblas, shrapnel façade of Felip Neri, Liceu Opera House (anarchist bomb), Central Post Office, CCOO and UGT union headquarters and the Foment de Treball patronal

OPTIONAL VISITS: air raid shelter on Avinguda Paral.lel or in Gràcia. Museum of Catalan History. Palau Güell townhouse (before the industrial barons took refuge from their employees up in the hills). Fortress of Montjuïc.


DAY 2. Battle of the Ebro and the Spanish Civil War museum

Corbera d'Ebre (Long Road Sixth Form College)
Corbera d'Ebre (Long Road Sixth Form College)

The battle of the Ebro was one of the most decisive engagements of the Spanish Civil War. This day includes a visit to Corbera d'Ebre, the old town bombarded and preserved as a monument, and to the Civil War museum in Gandesa where a wide range of resources help explore the conflicts between the ideologies. Optional visits can be made to a series of Ebro battle trenches, the Cave Hospital at La Bisbal de Falset and the site of the strategic river crossing by Republican troops at Miravet.