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Belchite: The Ruins of The Spanish Civil War

Forty kilometer southeast of the city of Zaragoza, in north-eastern Spain, lies the ghost town of Belchite, that was destroyed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War fought between the Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic, left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, and the Nationalists, a fascist group led by General Francisco Franco.

A small town, lacking any military interest, Belchite suddenly found itself thrust towards the frontlines when the Republican launched an offensive against the Nationalists forces in the Aragon region of Spain where they held several villages and towns that were known to be weakly defended. Advancing through these weak points in the Nationalists’ frontline, the Republicans planned to take Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon, which was only a few kilometers behind enemy lines. While the Republicans did make good advance in the region, Belchite itself was fiercely defended by the Nationalists. The town eventually fell after two weeks of intense fighting, and by then Belchite was almost totally destroyed. At least 5,000 people, including civilians, died.

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

After the Civil War was over, Spain’s new ruler Francisco Franco ordered the ruins of Belchite to be left untouched as a living monument of the war. Today, visitors can walk amongst the bullet-ridden, mortar shattered buildings and visit the hollowed out village church. The holes and caves in Lobo Hill south of Belchite from where the Spanish Republican artillery positions fired towards the old town are also preserved.

In recent years, the ghost town has become popular as a movie set, for Spanish, British and American crews. The 1988 movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and the 2006 Spanish movie Pan's Labyrinth was shot here.

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Photo credit: Christian Lendl/Flickr

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Photo credit: Christian Lendl/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

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Photo credit: thierry llansades/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / Unique Spain / www.news.com.au / Dark Tourism

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