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Dennis

Spain Belchite Viejo, Aragon

Location: about 50 Kms south from Zaragoza in Aragon; 41o18'04.74''N 0o44'55.24''W

While traveling from Cardona to Albarracin we stopped at Belchite, near Zaragoza. Belchite is a sleepy rural town. However, we came to visit Belchite Viejo, a town left in ruins by the Spanish Civil War.

In an effort to halt Nationalist force's advance Republican forces attacked and occupied Belchite in 1937. Members of the International Lincoln Brigade took part in the assault. Nationalist forces retook it in 1938.

Franco ordered the town remain in ruins as symbol “to the irrestitibility of Nationalist forces”.

After the war, the new town was built by Republican prisoners who were housed at a nearby camp. The new town is one of the few places in Spain that still memorializes Franco. It has the Plaza de Generaliimo. It is orderly, clean and devoid of any individuality. Just as Franco wanted, I suppose.

Such is not the scene confronting visitors to the old town. Left as it was in 1939, nature has conspired with the reality of war to present a decaying, desolate picture. Although ordinance and major obstacles have been cleared, one must be aware of the possibility of falling brick and plaster when exploring buildings. Extremely hazardous sites are roped off but one can venture most places. Minimal restoration has been done to prevent the complete collapse of some monuments (i.e. the clock tower)

We were alone on the clear spring day we explored the town. Staircases lead to nowhere; piles of rubble marked once modest homes; desolation preceded us down the Calle Mayor. Of special note are two churches. Frescoes of saints and cherubs look down from the shattered dome of San Marin. The church of San Augustin has a bell tower.

An album entitled Belchite Viejo Aragon in the photos section of the website, shows some sites in the town. https://www.sloweurope.com/community/media/at-the-entrance.2443/
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