By Oisin Sweeney • 12 December 2020 • 19:07
THE LAVISH summer palace of Spain’s historical dictator Francisco Franco has been seized from his heirs by the Spanish government following a lengthy legal battle.
Pazo de Meiras, a beautiful 19th-century palace in Franco’s native northern region of Galicia, was gifted to the General during the Civil War by Spain’s Nationalist movement. His heirs continued to live in it until a lengthy bitter legal battle has recently concluded with its repossession by the Spanish state.
The centre-left government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tried to seize the opulent property in 2018 but lost a bitter lawsuit with Franco’s heirs. The dictator’s family subsequently placed it on the housing market for 8 million euro.
Since then the case of the palace has become a hotly contested issue in Spanish politics, where Civil War loyalties and ideologies continue to haunt public life. Last September a Judge ruled that the palace was the rightful property of Spain, as it had been gifted to Franco in his capacity as head of state as opposed to a private transaction.
The dictator’s grandson, also named Francisco Franco, maintains that the General bought the property a few years after it was gifted to him and has described the legal battle as a ‘circus’ in the Spanish media.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo extended her thanks to the ‘thousands of men and women from Galicia and the rest of Spain’ who had helped secure the repossesion of the palace, adding that the government plan to open the property to the public in order to ‘tell the truth of Franco’s passage through it’.
The government has also announced plans to use the palace to commemorate the life and works of its former occupant, groundbreaking naturalist author Emilia Pardo Bazam. Spain’s Civil War history, and that of Franco’s 1938-75 rule, remains a contentious topic in Spanish politics and society to this day.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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