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Musings on my life in Spain

Russ has lived in Spain for just over three years and has explored the area around Pamplona, Catalunya to the north of Barcelona, and is now living in Guardamar del Segura from where he blogs about his Spanish life.

Going Underground in Alicante
20 October 2015 @ 18:56

You may have heard of Guernica, a town in the Basque region of Spain, which was bombed by German aircraft in support of Franco during the Civil War, but Alicante suffered badly too, although its suffering is not widely known. When a new bus station was built in the city, work on the old bus station revealed a large underground public air raid raid shelter. The authorities knew a shelter existed but nobody knew its exact location until it was uncovered by chance. Now a new visitors’ centre offers a glimpse into life in wartime Alicante and offers the chance to venture underground into the shelter.

Located on the intersection of two streets named after Franco’s wartime allies, Portugal and Italy (see map), the centre is inside the refurbished engineering works. It is a beautiful building with interesting information plaques on all of the walls in Spanish, Valenciano and also in very well written English. For just €2 you can wander around and take in the history of Alicante’s role in the Civil War, explore the two showrooms where a firefighting truck, some ammunition, and interesting aerial photographs wait in one and wartime uniforms and photographs in the other. At midday you may even get a guided tour. The Spanish used in the tour was clear and precise making it easy to understand for an intermediate learner of the language.

Perhaps the most disturbing tale from this terrible time is that of the bombing raid on the market in May 1938. Some 300 people lost their lives as Italian planes based in Mallorca devastated the area on a busy market day. It’s a little known story which will surely now have a wider audience.

After visiting the centre you then need to be escorted out onto Plaza Seneca and down into the shelter. Other than a new supply of electricity and some touching up of the signs written on the walls, it remains exactly as it was back in the 1930s. It is not difficult to imagine the claustrophobia which must have been felt as a hundred or so frightened residents cowered away from the bombs dropping above.

The guide told me that if a group of visitors want to have a tour in English, they can be contacted in advance and a guide will be available. Opening times are 1000-1400 and 1600-2000 Tuesday to Saturday with guided tours taking place at 1200 and 1800. On Saturdays they are only open for the early session, and on Sundays they are closed. The scheduled times state until 31 December but after so much investment it’s hard to believe that the centre will not continue operating into the New Year.

If you have enjoyed this post, why not have a look at anythingbutpaella.com and have a read about some other unusual places in Spain.



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