- 3 hours
George Orwell—British novelist, essayist, and critic—arrived in Barcelona in 1936 with the paperwork necessary to find work as a war correspondent. However, his experiences as a soldier in the 29th POUM division formed the bulk of the material for his notable text Homage to Catalonia. Transitioning from writer to soldier, Orwell joined the fight against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War, a three year conflict which tore Spain apart as two groups of differing political ideologies grappled for control. This 3-hour walking tour explores the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona and follows Orwell's footsteps during the 1937 May Revolution, described in the author's classic book. It is designed to give visitors a clearer picture of the Spanish Civil War and its impact on Barcelona.
- Explore the impact of the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona
- Led by a Spanish Civil War historian
- Small group size—no more than six people.
"Wow! This tour introduced us to an area of Spanish history we knew a bit about but certainly not in depth. It was a fascinating walk, and we intend to go home and learn a lot more. The docent was very helpful and shared much knowledge and many interesting anecdotes. It really made the period come alive for us."
Spanish Civil War in Barcelona
We will begin our tour at a historical Barcelona cafe, grounding ourselves with a sound introduction to the complex history of the Spanish Civil War. As we build an understanding of the series of tensions which combined to ignite the conflict, we will have a better context in which to explore Orwell's involvement. While Orwell is well-known today for his many dystopian works exploring totalitarian ideologies, Orwell initially wrote essays and autobiographical fiction based on his time living and working in Burma, London, and Paris. Together, we will discuss Orwell's background and political leanings, which motivated him to uproot himself to fight against Fascism. After establishing a historical foundation and maybe even enjoying a refreshing beverage, we will then stroll to the Ramblas, the main thoroughfare of Barcelona, where we will spend much of the remainder of our time together. Here, we find the headquarters of the major political parties that engaged in the struggle for Spain that presaged World War II.
Tensions Within the Republic
Together, we will visit old theaters, restaurants, and other significant points of interest where Orwell encountered the confused, internecine struggles between the various pockets of anarchists and communists within the city that made up the Republican forces. Drawing out differing factors, we will parse the elements that ultimately led to the defeat of the Second Spanish Republic in January 1939. In addition, our time together will afford us other glimpses of the Spanish Civil War in the city, including evidence of the first mass bombings of civilian targets (“The Barcelona Effect”). Additionally, we may see some of the buildings used for social experiments by the Popular Front, such as collectivized restaurants. Here, we will discuss their attempt to transform Barcelona's social system into a more benign and just means of existence.
As we explore the streets of Barcelona, we will see the city through the eyes of this infamous conflict. Together, we will note the War's effects upon the collective consciousness of this seaside city. With Orwell as our guide, we will come away with both an understanding Spanish Civil War's timeline and contributing factors. Moreover, we will see Orwell's particular experiences and perspective, which lingered with him long after his departure from Spain, informing his later work. In the end, we will emerge with a focused picture of Barcelona between 1936 and 1939, noting the buildings and streets that bear silent witness to the city's tragedy.
British born and educated, Alan has now lived permanently in Barcelona for several years. His expertise and knowledge on the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War is sought after by historians and visitors curious to understand this confusing yet fascinating period of Spanish hidden history. As a publisher specializing in books on the International Brigades, he studies the literature, archives, and photographic collections of this period of history, and his research has helped to extensively expand the current corpus of knowledge of the conflict. Television and filmwork also now take an ever-increasing proportion of this enjoyable work.
Mark Planellas Witzsch is an Official Licensed Guide, lecturer, writer/journalist and docent of Catalan and Spanish art & architecture. He lives in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. As a licensed museum and monument guide, he specialized in History, Art and Architecture (Gaudi, among other masters), as well as in the Jewish Heritage in Catalonia and Spain. Mark P. Witzsch holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy (History) of Art, another Bachelor in Information Science (journalism and marketing) and an MBA (Master in Business Administration), completed at the George Washington University and the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (UPC). He studied in Barcelona, Japan and in the USA, specifically WASHINGTON D. C. Currently he is working as a museum and monument Licensed Guide. In a broader context, he is writer and journalist in cultural topics and he became a docent in Catalan artistic avant-gardes in Barcelona.
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