Skip to content

Luxury Spanish estate used by General Franco to be open to the public after two year legal battle

The dictator's family has been ordered to open El Pazo de Meirás estate in Sada, Galicia, for four days a month to tourists after the regional government declared the late 19th century property a cultural heritage site.

The order comes after a two year legal battle. There now may be further moves to seek access to other properties connected with Franco which are worth millions of euros.

Officials argued that as the Sada estate was officially given as an 'offering' by the city of La Coruña to the General during the nationalistic furore of the civil war and the money to pay for this gift came from taxpayers and forced donations by residents of the region, then the public show have access.

'In reality, it was plunder dressed up as a purchase,' said writer Manuel Rivas, a Galician writer who campaigned for El Pazo de Meirás to be opened up. The estate is now valued at €400 million.

The fortress-like property and its surrounding gardens and forests were bought in 1938 from a writer, Emilia Pardo Bazán, with public money and Franco used it as a summer getaway during most of his 40-year dictatorship.

'I accept this gift with pleasure exclusively because it is a donation from my beloved countrymen,' Franco is quoted to have said on taking possession of his new home.

The Commission to Recover Historic Memory of La Coruña welcomed the government's decision. The commission plans to offer guided tours describing the forced donations and other pressures that put El Pazo de Meirás into Franco's hands.

The mayor of Sada, Abel López Soto, called it a 'partial victory' however. He believes the state should take over the building entirely.

Franco's daughter, Carmen Franco, sold El Canto del Pico, a 2,000 square metre palace built in the early 20th century in Torrelodones, Madrid, in 1988. It was bequeathed to Franco by José María del Palacio y Abárzuza, the Count of Las Almenas, in 1941. Declared a National Heritage Monument just 10 years after it was built, it became the General's weekend residence.

Still owned by the Franco family is El Palacio de Cornide, an 18th century palace in the old part of Coruña which was bought by the Ministry for Education and Science in 1962 but sold at auction three years later to the Count of Fenosa, who registered the property in the name of Franco's wife, Cármen Franco.

The future of Valdelasfuentes, a 10 million square metre estate between Móstoles and Arroyomolinos in the Madrid region, which was acquired by Franco's wife and her son-in-law, the Marqués de Villaverde, in the 1960s, is uncertain. The family wanted to sell part of the estate to allow 4,000 new homes to be built.