Peace Garden: Spanish Archway

The ‘Spanish Archway’ at the entrance to Wales’ National Garden of Peace, commemorates the solidarity between Welsh and Spanish communities through the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39

Most visitors to Wales’ National Garden of Peace will enter through the ‘Spanish Archway’ from North Road – itself a memorial to the Spanish Civil War.

1993 Origin of the Archway

The Archway was instigated as a project by Spanish International Youth volunteers participating in a UNA Exchange peace camp over Summer 1993.

The Spanish Civil War

In 1936, the military dictator General Franco overthrew the democratically elected government of Spain, instigating Fascist rule over the Iberian peninsula. Many communities were bombed into submission, particularly in the northern Basque country regions, the horrors of which were famously immortalised by Pablo Picasso’s anti-war mural ‘Guernica’, which is displayed in the Temple of Peace WCIA corridor.

Basque Refugees offered sanctuary in Wales

Tens of thousands of Republican Spaniards were forced into exile, and in 1937 the ship SS Habana brought over 4000 children fleeing Bilbao to Southampton – where the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief sought to organise new homes. Over 400 were taken in by Welsh communities in Caerleon, Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Colwyn Bay, Conwy.

Pablo Picasso’s ‘Guernica’

‘Wise and Foolish Dreamers’: the International Brigades

The spectre of fascism under Franco outraged Welsh mining communities in particular, and many hundreds of volunteers signed up to the International Brigades – travelling out to Spain to fight the fascist regime. Their solidarity is remembered to this day by communities throughout Spain, and their memory is kept alive by the work of the International Brigades Memorial Trust.