Carabanchel–General Introduction

Carabanchel Prison was built on the outskirts of Madrid during the first years of the Franco dictatorship. Inaugurated in 1944, its purpose was to remove political prisoners from the Porlier prison in Madrid´s downtown center. It include a women’s prison, children’s center and hospital. Built by Franco’s political prisoners, Carabanchel Prison was designed as a star with 8 arms “radiating out of an eye that never closed.”  The prison was designed so that each prisoner would feel like s/he was being watched at all times. It could hold up to two thousand inmates which included political prisoners, as well as petty criminals like pickpockets, and homosexuals.



Demolished October 2008 in the middle of the night, so as not to attract protesters against its destruction, the prison remains a controversial subject always present in conversations about the memory of the Franco dictatorship. There are debates over how the new space should be utilized; its use as a new hospital; a recreational center; or a municipal building are among the ideas that have been proposed by civic organizations and neighborhood associations.

One might ask why the neighborhood of Carabanchel is so involved in plans for the old site of the prison. It may seem strange that the people would oppose demolishing a symbol of Franco’s repression, but somewhere along the way, Carabanchel prison transformed in the eyes of the community from a place of repression to a place of commemorative memory. They want to keep this memory alive.

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