Spain

  
Though this sun-drenched land is certainly rather a prime mainstream holiday country than a dark tourism travel destination, Spain still offers a number of really quite exceptional sites of that category, mostly related to the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship:
 
 
 
 
 
 
- Belchite
 
- Ebro
 
 
Most people probably rather associate Spain with beaches and the amassed barracks-like hotels of the Costa del Sol, or with cultural riches such as the Alhambra or the Prado, or you may think of Flamenco or bullfighting (OK, the latter IS dark – but I won't pursue the issue of institutionalized cruelty towards animals any further here …).
 
What seems to be almost forgotten today is the fact that in Spain one of the longest standing (quasi-)fascist dictatorships reigned in Europe. Generalissimo Francisco Franco ruled the country with the proverbial iron fist for nearly four decades until his death in 1975 … that isn't really that long ago, when you think about it.
 
Franco had come to power during the Spanish Civil War in which – with the support of die-hard fascist Nazi Germany and Italy – he was victorious against the communists/anarchists and rapidly established a typically right-wing dictatorship. 
  
Unlike his buddy Hitler, Franco survived WWII (which largely passed Spain by) and carried on ruling Spain until his death – never having been brought to justice. And there would have been a lot to answer for. Discrimination, propaganda, censorship, concentration camps and forced labour, executions en masse, mass graves – the works.
 
Still, he was allowed to pass away peacefully and was laid to eternal rest in his pompously colossal monument to the "Fallen" of the Civil War at Valle de los Caidos.
 
If you have to pick one place name in Spain to stand for the horrors of the times in the run-up to WWII, then it has to be Guernica – a Basque city bombed in 1937 by the German "Condor Legion" in the best-known early example of carpet bombing, targeting primarily civilians … i.e. it was a forerunner to what would later escalate during WWII, from Coventry to Hamburg and Dresden … "Guernica" is also the title of one of Pablo Picasso's most famous paintings – and its enormous size alone impresses even those who do not usually have a penchant for modern art.
 
While Guernica rose from its ashes and was rebuilt after the war, another town – Belchite south of Zaragoza – was left in the ruins it was after the battle of the same name. It still stands out in its authenticity as a raw war memorial.
 
Contemporary Spain has long since made the transition to democracy and is now fully integrated into the European community and a key EU member (although one shaken by an ongoing financial crisis and cripplingly high unemployment levels).
 
The legacy of Franco has meanwhile rather been swept under the carpet. The tacit agreement seems to be to better not rekindle any lurking conflict or wake any ghosts from the past (or present – after all, there still are Franco fascists in Spain today). So the dark tourist in Spain has to be content with just very few sights relating to those dark chapters in the country's history ... except in the far north, in particular Catalonia, where the topic of the Civil War is currently making solid inroads into the region's tourism portfolio.
  
There is now even talk of a dedicated Civil War Museum to be set up in Barcelona. Meanwhile it is primarily the region of the Terra Alta where most of the commodification of the war history is to be found, due to the fact that it was here that the last decisive battle, the Battle of the Ebro, was fought. 
 
Thanks to the fact that Spain is one of the world's most popular mainstream tourist destinations, the tourism infrastructure is formidable in many parts of the country and low-price airline tickets are fairly easy to come by. Getting around the country is best by car, though many of the main cities are also connected by state-of-the-art highspeed railways which make covering larger distances (e.g. between Barcelona, Madrid and Seville) a breeze.   
  
  
   
  • Spain 01 - colourfulSpain 01 - colourful
  • Spain 02 - the home of bullfightingSpain 02 - the home of bullfighting
  • Spain 03 - church bellsSpain 03 - church bells
  • Spain 04 - the EbroSpain 04 - the Ebro
  • Spain 05 - rural townSpain 05 - rural town
  • Spain 06 - abandoned houseSpain 06 - abandoned house
  • Spain 07 - the PyreneesSpain 07 - the Pyrenees
  • Spain 08 - lush forestSpain 08 - lush forest
  • Spain 09 - Civil-War-related memorial stone in the PyreneesSpain 09 - Civil-War-related memorial stone in the Pyrenees
  • Spain 10 - garrotted sculpturesSpain 10 - garrotted sculptures
  • Spain 11 - Basque BilbaoSpain 11 - Basque Bilbao
  • Spain 12 - the Guggenheim in BilbaoSpain 12 - the Guggenheim in Bilbao
  • Spain 13 - transporter bridge in BilbaoSpain 13 - transporter bridge in Bilbao
  • Spain 14 - on the Basque coastSpain 14 - on the Basque coast
  • Spain 15 - Bay of Biscay coastSpain 15 - Bay of Biscay coast
  • Spain 16 - oil not from olivesSpain 16 - oil not from olives
  • Spain 17 - solar panels in AragonSpain 17 - solar panels in Aragon
  • Spain 18 - remote countrysideSpain 18 - remote countryside
  • Spain 19 - coastal townSpain 19 - coastal town
  • Spain 20 - old wallsSpain 20 - old walls
  • Spain 21 - Easter processionSpain 21 - Easter procession
  • Spain 22 - in Zaragoza lots of drumming is involvedSpain 22 - in Zaragoza lots of drumming is involved
  • Spain 23 - scary hoodsSpain 23 - scary hoods
  • Spain 24 - more drumming and in purpleSpain 24 - more drumming and in purple
  • Spain 25 - marching on and on deep into the nightSpain 25 - marching on and on deep into the night
  • Spain 26 - time offSpain 26 - time off
  • Spain 27 - SevilleSpain 27 - Seville
  • Spain 28 - Moorish vs GothicSpain 28 - Moorish vs Gothic
  • Spain 29 - Seville cathedralSpain 29 - Seville cathedral
  • Spain 30 - Real Alcazar in SevilleSpain 30 - Real Alcazar in Seville
  • Spain 31 - Moorish grandeurSpain 31 - Moorish grandeur
  • Spain 32 - Moorish still lifeSpain 32 - Moorish still life
  • Spain 33 - old-style head-huntingSpain 33 - old-style head-hunting
  • Spain 34 - empty arsenal building in SevilleSpain 34 - empty arsenal building in Seville
  • Spain 35 - Plaza de Espana in SevilleSpain 35 - Plaza de Espana in Seville
  • Spain 36 - modernitySpain 36 - modernity
  • Spain 37 - the River GuadalquivirSpain 37 - the River Guadalquivir
  • Spain 38 - plains east of SevilleSpain 38 - plains east of Seville
  • Spain 39 - provincial townSpain 39 - provincial town
  • Spain 40 - Andalusian sunsetSpain 40 - Andalusian sunset
  • Spain 41 - Ronda by nightSpain 41 - Ronda by night
  • Spain 42 - pueblos blancosSpain 42 - pueblos blancos
  • Spain 43 - CadizSpain 43 - Cadiz
  • Spain 44 - OliteSpain 44 - Olite
  • Spain 45 - Parador de CarmonaSpain 45 - Parador de Carmona
  • Spain 46 - palatial Parador in CarmonaSpain 46 - palatial Parador in Carmona
  • Spain 47 - Roman ruinsSpain 47 - Roman ruins
  • Spain 48 - orange treesSpain 48 - orange trees
  • Spain 49 - water fountains are commonSpain 49 - water fountains are common
  • Spain 50 - classicSpain 50 - classic
  • Spain 51 - clichesSpain 51 - cliches
  • Spain 52 - Brits abroadSpain 52 - Brits abroad
  • Spain 53 - flamenco guitarSpain 53 - flamenco guitar
  • Spain 54 - vineyard in NavarraSpain 54 - vineyard in Navarra
  • Spain 55 - Oloroso sherrySpain 55 - Oloroso sherry
  • Spain 56 - garlic and peppersSpain 56 - garlic and peppers
  • Spain 57 - gambas a la planchaSpain 57 - gambas a la plancha
  • Spain 58 - bacalauSpain 58 - bacalau
  • Spain 59 - cheesesSpain 59 - cheeses
  • Spain 60 - iberico hamSpain 60 - iberico ham
  • Spain 61 - olivesSpain 61 - olives
  • Spain 62 - football and chocolateSpain 62 - football and chocolate
  • Spain 63 - often lackingSpain 63 - often lacking
 
  
  
  
  
  
  

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