Located next to my town Bollullos there is another pueblo called Niebla that has a giant castle. It’s pretty sweet, and every time I go through that town (por autobus, claro) I wonder how Bollullos can get themselves one of those castles too.
Long story short, the Romans decided to built a fortress in the area of Niebla, along with a bridge that crosses the Rio Tinto (the Tinted River). It wasn’t until the Arabs came in that they built what is left today. However, like every other Spanish historical site, the castle rooms have been “recreated” into the most tacky way possible.
The more interesting part of the castle was the Torture museum that is conveniently located underground in the dungeon (Que creepy!). However, before I go into that part of our trip, I should probably explain this torture museum is in existence. During the years that Francisco Franco was the “Head of State” of Spain (AKA Fascist Dictator), his method of treating his political prisoners was torture. So I have inferred that the reason some of the torture items were in such good use is because Franco’s peeps must have used them. Let’s be real, they are all probably fake re-creations, but still it makes this story WAY more interesting.
So here’s the story of a not so lovely man, who was born into a military family. Por supuesto, he also joined the army, and ended up making his way to General status. It wasn’t until 1936 when he helped lead, as the Nationalist head, the right-winged political group into an uprising with the Republican Popular Front. He was able to over throw Spain’s current Republican government and put himself into power (with the help and support of Mussolini and Hitler). This uprising lead to a civil war, and in October of 1936 Franco finally succeeded and was appointed generalissimo of Nationalist Spain and head of state.
Franco went on to rule Spain for nearly forty years. He was able to hold on to power by playing off the diverse political factions of the state against one another and through his control over the armed forces while brutally repressing enemies. This included the systematic suppression of dissident views through censorship and coercion, the imprisonment of ideological enemies in concentration camps, the implementation of forced labour in prisons, and the use of the death penalty and heavy prison sentences as deterrents for the opponents of the regime. The Spanish people were required to go to mass every Sunday, homosexuals were discriminated against, the national language of Spain was Castilian Spanish (Catalan, Galician, and Basque languages of Northern Spain), and even women were put back into the traditional role of motherhood and caring for the family. An interesting fact: Franco banned the use of the word “Rojo” which means red because it was associated with the Republic party (Franco’s party was blue), so instead people use “colorado.” I’ve actually heard it used with some of the older generations here. It is also why red wine here in Spain is called “vino tinto” and not “vino rojo.”
Here is a picture I found on the internet that shows what life was like during the Civil War that came out of the Uprising of Franco and his party members. DISCLAIMER: The photo is a bit graphic, and I totally understand if you need to skip over it. However, I am posting it to show the tragedies that the Spanish people endured during his rise to power, as well during his reign. Although this is in the past, it still happened, and it can’t be ignored. The whole point of history and the past is that it teaches the present what to do in the future.
It wasn’t until Franco’s health started to decline that he decided that the grandson of former King Alfonso XIII, Juan Carlos, as his official successor. Once Franco died in 1975, the old Spanish Monarchy was restored, and Spain made the final decision to become a “democracy.” I put that in quotations because they are still working out the kinks here. When people tell me about Franco, they always describe Spain like this: “Antes, España estuvo cerrado, ahora España esta abierto para el mundo,” “Before, Spain was closed, now Spain is open for the world.” And it is true, everyone tells me how Spain is now just rejoining the rest of the world.
Ok, I digress…back to the torture museum:
All I have to say is the museum was poorly lit, there was a creepy soundtrack of people getting tortured, all of the torture mechanisms looked really real liked they had been recently used (during the Franco era prehaps??), and there was an even lower part where “trials” was in complete darkness. It probably didn’t help that we watched a scary ghost show the night before.
If you all are ready to learn about some torture, read on, if not. I guess it is HASTA LUEGO!
The Ladder Rack: This machine would stretch people, dislocate the shoulders. The people went even further to burn the sides of the waists and armpits just to make it that much worse. THE BEST PART: if by the end of this, when a person was most likely paralyzed and/or dying from 3rd degree burns, if they still didn’t confess to the crime the court had to recognize them as innocent.
Here a person would be secured to the table and then a funnel-like object would be placed in their mouth. Then water would be poured and the person would be forced to swallow the water until they confessed or died.
This is my favorite one. A person would have to wear this barrel around town as punishment. Talk about the most embarrassing dunce cap ever.
This little guy would be attached around your neck. Then the little fork part goes under your chin and then on the upper part of your chest. This prohibits you from talking because if you move your jaw you end up poking yourself.
This is an interesting torture device. It is called the Garrotte, and it was invented by the Spanish Inquisition. In the movie 1492 (a historical film about Columbus) and they actually show it being used. It was also Franco’s favorite machine for the death penalty. The screw in the back is turned and pulls the rope noose around the “traitor’s” neck slowly killing the person by asphyxiation.
An interesting fact that we aren’t too sure about: is that the museum says that this machine (or forms like it) are still used today in the “New World…” I don’t know what “New World” they are talking about, but I highly doubt it is actually used.
Here people are hung by their hands and lifted by a pulley, and they would just hang there. If the punishment was harsher the prisoner would be hung by their feet.
This piece was used to secure the prisoners hands up by their heads that that they couldn’t use them. It was also used to help secure prisoners before execution or during transport.
At one point during our time down in the museum, the creepy soundtrack stopped playing, and I got freaked out and had to leave the museum. I felt like it was a set up for the beginning of a scary movie.
Now that you are in a great mood after this post! Up next is Semana Santa (Holy Week), and I will be spending it in Madrid, Toledo, and Sevilla!
Until next time, HASTA LUEGO!