Belchite, near Zaragoza, contains the ruins of a town destroyed in the 1937 Battle of Belchite during the Spanish Civil War. Left untouched as a symbol of the conflict, Belchite gives a rare glimpse of the intensity and destruction wrought by this terrible war.
History of Belchite
The Battle of Belchite refers to a series of military operations that took place between August and September of 1937, in and around the small town of Belchite in Aragon during the Spanish Civil War.
The Republican military leaderships decided to try a new series of offensives to slow down the Nationalist advance in the north. The destruction that tens of thousands of troops and military equipment caused led to the whole town being destroyed.
As a result, Franco ordered that the ruins be left untouched as a ‘living’ monument of war, with the holes and caves in Lobo Hill south of Belchite from where the Spanish Republican artillery positions fired towards what is now Belchite Old Town have been preserved and are open to visitors.
Today a modern town of the same name sits alongside the ruins and visitors are relatively free to explore the old town’s remains. Among the most prominent structures within Belchite is the eerie Church of San Martin, which seems more like a medieval ruin than a victim of 20th century conflict.
Other areas within the old town include the remains of the main street, the Church of San Juan and the Convent of San Agustín.
Certain areas of Belchite are restricted due to unstable structures and care is advised when visiting the site. Belchite features as one of our recommended key places to visit when touring Spain.
Getting to Belchite
From the centre of Belchite, the ruins are a ten minute walk via the Ctra. Cariñena/A-220 roads, or a 5 minute drive via the Travesía del Barrio Alto road.
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