Monday, 15 August 2011

I have been to ... Montjuic Castle

During the second part of my recent cruise (the visit to Spain, France, Italy, and Gibraltar), I visited Castillo de Montjuic (Montjuic Castle) in Barcelona.


The first fortifications built on the site of Castillo de Montjuic were constructed in 1640, and consisted of a simple quadrilateral-shaped fortification that was covered in stone and mud. By 1694 it had been expanded so that it incorporated three landward-facing bastions and a line of seaward-facing ramparts.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the castle was captured on 17th September 1705 by troops led by Charles Mordaunt, Lord Peterborough. Spanish forces recaptured it on 25th April 1706, lost it again on 12th May 1706, and finally took possession of it again on 12th September 1714.

In 1751 Juan Martín Cermeño – a military engineer – began the process of rebuilding the fortress. The original fort from 1640 was demolished and new fortifications were laid out. The work took a considerable time, and included building batteries for 120 cannons, cisterns for the, fortress’s water supply, a dry moat, and kitchens to feed the fortress’s population, which was over 3,000 people! The work was finally completed in 1799.

The fortress was occupied by the French troops on 13th February 1808, and reoccupied by Spanish forces on 27th May 1814 towards the end of the War of Independence (better known to English military historians as the Peninsular Campaign).

The importance of Castillo de Montjuic as a defensive position diminished during the nineteenth century, although new artillery was emplaced there during the latter part of the century as part of a general up-grade of Spain’s coastal defences. Its importance as a prison for political prisoners grew, and during the 1890s supporters of the anarchist workers movement were imprisoned there. These were followed in 1909 when people who were arrested during the Semana Trágica (Tragic Week [25th July – 2nd August, 1909]) were incarcerated there, and again in 1919 when over 3,000 people were imprisoned in the fortress as a result of the Canadenca strikes and the resulting unrest. During the Spanish Civil War the fortress was again used as a political prison, and at least 173 people were executed there between 1936 and 1939 when it was under Republican control. The executions continued after the end of the Civil War, but this time the prisoners were Republicans.

The role of the fortress as a prison came to an end in 1960. The complex was refurbished and converted into a military museum, which was opened by General Franco on 24th June 1963. In 2007 Castillo de Montjuic was transferred to Barcelona City Council, and the Council is currently redeveloping the site for municipal use as a concert venue, arts complex, and peace museum.

PS. Sorry again for the quality of the map; it has been put together from a scan of the tourist map that is given out at the castle.

4 comments:

  1. Good castle - we visited it a couple of years ago.

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  2. Tim Gow,

    I enjoyed going there again, even though the military museum has now closed.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. I'm glad I got in when I did then! The museum had some good stuff - I must dig out my photos.

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  4. Tim Gow,

    No one could tell me where the war museum`s exhibits had gone to, which is a great pity. One hopes that they will have been sent to the main military museum in Madrid.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete