Spanish property of General Francisco Franco opens to public

Spain: The former summer palace of Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco has finally been opened to the public.

The Palace of Pazo de Meirás in Northwest Spain has been the subject of a dispute between Franco’s family and the Spanish Government since his death in 1975.

Following his death it passed to his daughter, Carmen, who became the first Duchess of Franco.

For many years there has been growing pressure on Carmen to open the house to the public.

In 2007 a petition signed by residents of Galicia and approved by local authorities declared the property a listed building. This meant the family had to open the house to the public four times a month and also required them to take proper care of it, due to its historical and cultural value.

However, the family refused to open the palace and would not allow local government officials to inspect the building to make sure it was being well maintained. A court order eventually forced them open the doors to the inspectors.

At the time, campaigners were demanding that the palace be taken from the Franco family without compensation.

A legal challenge brought by the Spanish Government in 2008 eventually led to a court ruling in October 2010 which classified the property as a national monument and ordered that it was opened to the public.

Following the ruling, town councillors in Sada announced that the 19th Century palace must open for “public use”.

“This town hall is working to make sure the Pazo de Meirás can become public property in the shortest possible time,” said Sada’s mayor, Abel López.

The palace was owned by novelist Emilia Pardo Baza until 1921 when it was bought with public funds. The property was signed over to Franco in 1939, the year the civil war finished and his thirty six year dictatorship began.

The palace of Pazo de Meirá stands on six hectares of land amid the ruins of an ancient fort. It was used by Franco as a retreat during the summer holidays, when he would return to his native…

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