An iconic photograph from the Spanish Civil War saved this shrapnel-scarred historic house from destruction.
The rundown building at Calle Peironcely 10 in Madrid’s working class Vallecas neighborhood became a symbol of the Spanish Civil War, thanks to an iconic image of the shrapnel-pocked house taken by famous war photographer Robert Capa.
The house was badly damaged by German bombs in 1936, when Adolf Hitler was helping General Francisco Franco overthrow Spain’s republican government and using Madrid as a guinea pig for the blitzkrieg attacks. Capa captured an image of three children sitting in the rubble outside the house while a woman looked on from the side. The poignant photo was published around the world, encouraging many people to join the fight against Franco.
Entitled “Children in Madrid,” the image showed a kind of universal scenario of the horror of war and the vulnerability of childhood. It became one of Capa’s most famous photographs, and a symbol of the Spanish Civil War, especially after it was censored in Spain under Franco’s dictatorship.
After the war, the building at Peironcely 10 remained semi-ruined and abandoned for almost a decade, and then was divided into 15 flats that housed families in poor, overcrowded conditions. The shrapnel holes on the facade were plastered over. Eventually, the rundown building was slated for demolition, but a group of citizens fought to save it and have it protected as a reminder of Spain’s heritage. The campaign was successful, and the historic building at Peironcely 10 is now being turned into a cultural space, while its residents are moved to better living conditions.
Know Before You Go
To see the building, take the commuter train to Entrevias station.
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