Pazo de Meirás
|Pazo de Meirás|
|Location||Sada, Galicia, Spain|
|Owner||Francisco Franco National Foundation|
Construction and Emilia Pardo Bazán
The current building dates from the end of the 19th century, with the first stone placed in 1893. Known originally as the Torres de Meirás, it was built on the ruins of an old military fortification, built on land owned by the Patiño de Bergondo since the 16th century, that was itself destroyed by Napoleonic French troops in the year 1809 during the Spanish War of Independence.
Through marriage, the property was transferred to the Pardo de Lama, and then through direct inheritance to the writer Emilia Pardo Bazán, who undertook major remodelling to create the current building layout. The writer married in the chapel - which she called "Granja de Meirás" - 5 on 10 July 1868 and, once the remodelling was complete, spent more than four months there every year. When in residence, she worked in the tower that she called "de la chimera", where her library was installed and remains in the present building.
After the death of Emilia in 1921, the building passed to her son Jaime Quiroga y Pardo Bazán. In August 1936, after the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (Iberian Anarchist Federation) murdered Jaime and his son also called Jaime in Madrid, the building came into control of his widow Manuela Esteban-Collantes and Emilia's daughter Blanca Quiroga de Pardo Bazán. They agree to sell the property to the Pazo branch of the Society of Jesus, but after they failed to meet certain conditions the property remained within the family.
Franco's summer retreat
With the Spanish Civil War now raging, in 1938 the pazo was taken over by the Nationalist faction, for it to be used as a summer residence by General Francisco Franco. After the end of the Spanish civil war, in honour to their new Caudillo, the local Nationalist faction in agreement with the Nationalist government agreed to obtain the property. An agreement of sale was drawn up between Emilia's family and the Spanish state, to acquire the building for the use of the Spanish head of state; although by default this meant that it became the personal property of Franco. To raise the funds required to purchase the property, the local Nationalist faction created a forced subscription, which received donations from local workers, business and government authorities and councils.
Issues regarding ownership
After the death of Franco, King Juan Carlos I gave his widow Carmen Polo the hereditary title Señora de Meirás (English: Lady of Meirás), named after her and her husband's summer residence. The title passed to Carmen Polo's grandson Francisco Franco, 2nd Lord of Meirás, although her daughter Carmen Franco, 1st Duchess of Franco was associated with the house; after her death at the end of 2017, the family put the property on the market in 2018.
The legal status of Pazo de Meirás has been contested in Spain. It has also been raised at a European level by the Galician MEP Ana Miranda. She arranged a visit to the property with other MEPs including Jill Evans (of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru). Efforts by Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to seize the property were rebuffed in 2018 by a legal ruling by Ministry of Justice lawyers (Abogacía del Estado) that said the donation of the property to Franco was entirely legal and a 1982 law could not be applied retroactively.
Pazo de Meirás was given the heritage designation Bien de Interés Cultural in 2008 despite the opposition of its owners. Arrangements have since been made for the public to visit the building on a limited basis. In 2017 it was proposed that the tours should be given by the Francisco Franco National Foundation. This generated controversy, given that the Foundation has the role of promoting respect for the achievements of the former Spanish caudillo. However, the Foundation continues to give the tours as at 2018.
- Obelleiro, Paola (2007). "El pueblo reclama el pazo de Meirás". El País (in Spanish).
- "La familia Franco pone a la venta el Pazo de Meirás por 8 millones" [The Franco family puts the Pazo on sale with a price of 8 million]. Faro de Vigo (in Spanish). February 2018.
- "Ana Miranda propón ao Parlamento Europeo que apoie as propostas do BNG para recuperar o Pazo de Meirás". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
- "Una hora en el Pazo con la Fundación Francisco Franco". Publico (in Spanish). 2018.
- Hedgecoe, Guy (2017-08-15). "Anger at plans for guided tours to show "greatness" of Franco". Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
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