A rather pretty small town in the northern Terra Alta region of Catalonia, Spain
. There are two exhibitions in the town that are dedicated to the Battle of the Ebro in the Spanish Civil War
. It also makes for a good base for exploring the wider area of the Ebro
in more depth.
More background info:
The town's history goes way back, even into the times when today's Spain
was Moorish (Muslim) territory. But of that no traces are left. Much of the Old Town dates back to the Middle Ages
and has some characteristic architectural features (see below).
During the Battle of the Ebro
in the Spanish Civil War
, La Fatarella was the site of an unusual incident: a night-time exchange of friendly fire
between two different divisions of the Republican Army, who moved into town as the Nationalists had abandoned it. The 35th Division arrived first, and when hours later the 3rd Division entered the town as well they were mistaken for returning enemies. It wasn't until the next morning that they noticed their error. This delay prevented them from pushing on in their march on Gandesa
For most of the war, however, La Fatarella stayed calm
and far enough behind the front lines (and was thus spared the sort of destruction that laid e.g. Corbera d'Ebre
to ruin). The commander of the XV Army Corps, Manuel Tagüeña, the man who later organized the Republican retreat back across the Ebro (see under Ebro
), set up his command post
in La Fatarella.
Shortly after, on 14 November 1938, the 4th Division of the Nationalist Army reoccupied La Fatarella.
Today, it remains a rural town whose economy is largely geared towards the production of olive oil (Terra Alta olive oil has its own Protected Designation of Origin). Every December there is an “Oil Festival” in town that celebrates this product as well as other crafts and traditions of the region.
What there is to see:
The main reason for coming here are the two museum exhibitions about the Spanish Civil War
that are almost next door to each other but of very different natures:
Other than that there are various battle-related sites in the area around La Fatarella, some of which are covered under the general Ebro
Another one quite close to La Fatarella (a mere 5 minutes' drive away) is the Les Devees
site, a former rear position from the Spanish Civil War
where you can still see shelters (bunkers) and quite well-preserved trenches – possibly the best, and most authentic-looking ensemble of this kind that I saw on my trip around the region. Some of it is due to reconstruction, though, especially the wooden beams and the sandbags by the bunker entrance can hardly be the originals.
When I toured the region with a guide (see again under Ebro
) he picked La Fatarella as our strategic base
– not least because of a specific guest house that lies just to the north of the Old Town, where we stayed for two nights – see below
in the northern half of the Terra Alta region of the Ebro
, in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
, some 6 miles (10 km) north of Corbera d'Ebre
and 5 miles (8 km) west of Asco (on road No. T-733). Les Devees is by the road leading out of La Fatarella to the south, some 2 miles (3 km) out of town. The Casa Ecològica is just on the northern edge of the town at the foot of the hill with the Old Town.
Google Maps locators:
Access and costs: a bit remote but not difficult to get to if you have a car; relatively affordable.
To get to La Fatarella you'll have to have your own mode of transport, i.e. ideally a (hire) car. It's only a quarter of an hour's drive from Corbera d'Ebre
to the south or Asco to the east.
can be found in private rooms (cheap) or at the very commendable Casa Ecològica at the northern edge of the town. As the name implies it is a very ecologically aware business, which has its own grey water circuit and utilizes solar energy, for instance. It is part youth hostel, part hotel. Hotel rooms naturally cost a little more. When I was there at Easter 2015 it was 44 EUR on a full board basis per person per night. Yet it's not only ethically worth it but also in practical terms. The rooms are simple but functional, and good, local, home-cooked food is provided, plus there's plenty of parking space available on site. The only problem may be the language barrier, as no English is spoken here. But if you too come with a guide, possibly the same one I used (see under Ebro
), then you can leave all arrangements and the talking to him.
If you're having full board you won't need to go out anywhere else for food in La Fatarella, but you can still pop into one of the little local bars in the Old Town, if just for a quick pre-dinner drink, e.g. to sample the local cheap and cheerful white wines.
Time required: Theoretically you could do the two museum exhibitions in this town back to back in under two hours, provided you find them open on the same day. But if you're staying in La Fatarella, then a bit of time for a wander round the quaint narrow alleyways and streets of this mediaeval town should be set aside too.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
in general see under Ebro
La Fatarella is in quite a convenient, 'strategic' location with regard to all the other places in this region, being more or less bang in the middle of it. None of the other locations are more than a 30-40 minutes' drive away.
A bit further, but still within fairly easy reach is Belchite
(a ca. 2 hours' drive to the west), which I did as a stopover en route from Zaragoza.
For yet more places further afield see under Spain
Combinations with non-dark destinations: La Fatarella has its own quaint charm, a rural mediaeval town of narrow, winding streets and dry-stone architecture, many connected by characteristic arches. You can also spot another characteristic: carved stone heads set into the wall above doors. Furthermore the town has two pretty churches and you can also spot remnants of its mediaeval town wall in a few places.
It's all quite atmospheric and well worth a wander around.
For the region as such see under Ebro
- Fatarella 1 - in evening light
- Fatarella 2 - narrow street
- Fatarella 3 - stone head
- Fatarella 4 - old empty house
- Fatarella 5 - Casa Ecologica
- Fatarella 6 - bell made from a shell
- Fatarella 7 - Les Devees site
- Fatarella 8 - rear position refuge
- Fatarella 9 - bunker at Les Devees