Blood Hospitals, Batea
One of the interpretation centres organized in the Consorci Memorial dels Espais de la Batalla de l'Ebre. This one in the little town of Batea is about the medical side of the Battle of the Ebro
in northen Spain
, more specifically about the Republicans' so-called Blood Hospitals, but also about the medical aspects of the Spanish Civil War
What there is to see:
The Blood Hospitals ('Hospitals de Sang') interpretation centre is a rather small exhibition, and unfortunately all texts and labelling are in Catalan and Spanish only and there's no English booklet here either (unlike at the Internationals
or the 115 Days
Still, many parts of the exhibition speak for themselves, such as the triage manual or the drawings of shrapnel bits embedded in body parts, or the objects on display, such as surgical instruments, syringes and bandages, and of course the many photos on the panels.
The small exhibition rooms have different themes: Wounded at the Front, Wartime Medicine, Healthcare Staff and one comparing the very different conditions the Republican side had to deal with as opposed to the much more fortunate Nationalists.
One room is designed like a train carriage, namely on one of the hospital trains. In addition to caves that were often used as safe locations for Republican hospitals, they also improvised in the form of such conversions of train carriages into rolling hospital wards that could be driven into tunnels, where they too would be safe from aerial bombing or artillery shelling.
The best bit, at least for foreign visitors, is the ca. 20-minute film you can ask to be shown in a side room, and this does come with English subtitles! It is quite informative. In addition to historical footage it also features interviews e.g. with doctors who worked in these hospitals and describe the difficult conditions they had to cope with, how they had to be inventive, and how the very first blood transfusions came about. One old guy featured in the film rather proudly showed off his huge scars to the camera (not for the squeamish).
I visited this interpretation centre on my fourth day of exploring the region and its war history and must say that its subject matter made for a welcome change from all the trenches and collections of old military gear and shrapnel that I had seen in so many other places over that period.
on the first floor of a small house in the little town of Batea, Terra Alta, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
. Address: Carrer Major 27, 1a Planta.
Access and costs: A bit hidden, but not to hard to get to, provided you travel by car; very modestly priced.
First you have to get to Batea, for which you'll need your own transport (see under Ebro
in general), preferably a small car, then find somewhere to park close to the town centre. The rest you'll have to walk as the museum is on a narrow pedestrianized street just to the north-west of the central square and the Ajuntament (town hall).
Admission (in 2015): 2 EUR.
Opening times follow a complicated schedule over the year, with somewhat shorter times in winter than in summer or spring/autumn. Apparently the centre is for most of the year open only Fridays to Sundays, and only every other week. On Fridays it is open only in the afternoon from 4 p.m. and Sundays only in the morning, from 11 a.m., Saturday will thus be the best day (but be aware of the long lunch break from 2 to 4 p.m.). Better check the schedule ahead of time on the batallaebre(dot)org website.
Time required: Between a mere half an hour, if you can't read Spanish/Catalan, and perhaps a good hour, if you can and want to read all the panels.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
See under Ebro
Combinations with non-dark destinations: Batea is a fairly pretty little place whose most characteristic feature is the many arched colonnades providing shady pavements for pedestrians.
Just up the road that the museum is located on and a short passageway to the right, there's a square with a large, ornate church (Parròquia de Sant Miquel Arcàngel) that is worth a look too.
See also under Ebro
in general for the region Batea is located in. It is less than ten miles (14 km) north-west from Gandesa
and some 20 miles (30 km) south of Fayón
, so it can be a good intermediate stop between the two places.
- Batea 1 - blood hospitals interpretation centre
- Batea 2 - entrance
- Batea 3 - into the exhibition
- Batea 4 - supplies
- Batea 5 - manual
- Batea 6 - hospital trains section
- Batea 7 - display cabinet
- Batea 8 - stretchers and white coats
- Batea 9 - town of arches