The Dark History of Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

The walls of the church of Sant Felip Neri which were badly damaged by bombs during the Spanish Civil War
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

When I took this photo, I was planning on writing an article explaining how the bullet-scarred walls of the Església de Sant Felip Neri church are a monument to the people executed here by Franco’s troops during the Spanish Civil War.

I’m not entirely sure where I got that version of events from, but it turns out that I’d been misled. Rather than being the result of mass executions, the damage to the church walls was, in fact, caused by two bombs.

During the Civil War, the convent was used as a home for evacuated children. On the 30th of January 1938, a bomb dropped by Franco’s air force exploded directly in front of the church, killing 30 of the children who were sheltering inside. Shortly afterwards, while people were trying to rescue survivors, a second bomb exploded in the square, bringing the death toll to 42.

History is Written By the Victors

It seems that the story that I’d been told had its origins in propaganda published after the war. Franco’s regime attributed the pockmarked walls of the church to anarchist firing squads who had supposedly executed priests in the square. Over the years, the story has been turned around so that Franco’s troops became the executioners.

In 2007, Barcelona City Council installed a bronze plaque with a simple inscription;

In memory of the victims of the bombardment of Sant Felip Neri.

Here died 42 people – the majority children – due to the actions of Franco’s airforce on the 30th of January 1938.

Felip Neri Square in Barcelona Gothic quarter
Sant Felip Neri Square, Barcelona


Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, Barcelona

How to get there

The plaza is near to Barcelona Cathedral at the end of Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe.

The nearest metro stations are Jaume I on the yellow line (L4) and Liceu on the green line (L3)

Other Attractions nearby


08002 Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain


  1. I, too, thought the holes in the wall were caused by executioners. It’s a tragic story regardless. The bar in the Hotel Nero looks out on this historic place.

    1. Hi Shari,

      My Immortal by Evanescence is a beautiful song with a great video, made all the more powerful when you know the history of the place where it was shot.

      Thanks for posting!

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