Popular Army Memorial in Pujalt unveils newly restored kitchen quarters
Civil War training camp opens new zone showing visitors how Republican soldiers spent their time before going to the front
In 1938, as the Spanish Civil War was entering its final stages, the Republican government reorganized its forces in Catalonia for the final showdown with Franco's advancing troops.
One of the measures taken was to send the 18th Army Corps to the tiny town of Pujalt, in the county of Anoia, to set up a training camp for this Popular Army Corps.
The former military facility is now a memorial and museum that is unique in Spain and has just been expanded with the restoration of the base's kitchen quarters.
The restored quarters are a new addition to the kitchens, which were restored just last year to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the base's construction.
More funds needed for future expansion
The manager of the memorial, Anna Escorihuela, says restoring more new spaces on the base, such as the commander's office, will depend on the site getting public subsidies.
The 18th Popular Army Corps arrived in spring 1938 and, after setting up the training camp, remained there until January 15, 1939, four days before Franco's troops arrived.
While it is not known how many Republican soldiers used the camp, which had a capacity for a thousand, the best estimates suggest as many as 20,000 may have passed through.
Built from scratch with logistical and organizational support from Pujalt, the site was chosen due to the proximity of a water source and good transport infrastructure.
Visitors can see "everyday lives of the soldiers"
What makes the site so unique, according to Escorihuela, is that "here you can get a good idea of what the everyday lives of the soldiers were like."
"The soldiers came for 10 to 15 days' training," she adds, saying that while their lives were hard at times, they also "ate, made friends, had farewell parties before going to the front."
Escorihuela says Pujalt was chosen as the site of the camp for "military and strategic" reasons, but there is also a legend that one of the commanders had a lover in Pujalt.
"Right now only about 25% of the original base can be visited," she says, but if the funds can be obtained more of the two-kilometer-long camp can be opened to the public.