Seville City Hall will build an ossuary-memorial in Pico Reja and announces work on the monument in 2023

This memorial ossuary will be the largest in the country. The City Council is working on a public act of homage “and reparation” to the victims of Francoism when the works in Pico Reja are finished


The Mayor of Seville, Antonio Muñoz, chaired this Wednesday a meeting of the Sectoral Council for Democratic Memory of the Seville City Hall to address the home stretch of the exhumation works of the Pico Reja mass grave in the San Fernando cemetery, as well as such as the project to build a memorial-ossuary and a columbarium which houses the remains of the victims of Francoism and, at the same time, serves as a tribute and a memory.

“We are about to complete one of the most important historical memory projects that have been developed in Spain. The works, carried out by the Aranzadi company on municipal commission, discover that the reality was much worse than what had been estimated in the forecasts. , DNA studies continue to be carried out and a decisive step has been taken to achieve truth, justice and reparation, ”emphasized Muñoz and collected the city council in a press release.

Since exhumation work began in 2020, the remains of more than 8,000 people have been located so far, including 1,661 with clear signs of repression and murder. The exhumation is coming to an end. According to forecasts, the work will be completed by the end of this year. Thus, the Memory Council meeting served to advance new projects.

On the one hand, the Aranzadi company will build a memorial ossuary and a columbarium in memory of the victims of Francoism. It will be the largest in the country to deposit, in a classified manner, the remains of the thousands of bodies recovered from the mass grave, which family members will be able to access quickly.

In addition, a monumental columbarium has been designed and will adapt to the limits of the mass grave, with three rows of columbariums made of reinforced concrete blocks and forming a triangular square with access to corridors located at each of the corners. . Due to the number of bodies recovered, it will be the largest columbarium in Spain for the victims of Francoism.

This place will be isolated, thus generating a gathering space for all those who will frequent the cemetery. The Ossuary-Memorial of Pico Reja maintains the triangular idea of ​​a summit. A peak with three edges and three entrances and its axis of intrigue rests on three pillars: truth, justice and reparation. It will also have a memory tree, a cypress, in the middle. In each of the rows of the columbarium there are individual niches in which a maximum of three skeletal remains can be deposited. In addition, each of the niches will be duly sealed and numbered.

Juantxo Agirre Mauleon, Secretary General of the Aranzadi Society, explained in the presentation before the Council of Democratic Memory that “the function of this ossuary-memorial is to have a place where the remains can be properly preserved and classified so that the loved ones can access the same tomb quickly and efficiently. In addition, a monumental columbarium has been designed to adapt to the boundaries of the tomb, delimiting the tomb as a space of memory, reflection and respect”.

The technical report presented explains that the Ossuary-Memorial of Pico Reja is not a container, but a space, an enclosure for reflection. Anartz Ormaza, the main architect of the project, explained for his part that “the ossuary-memorial of Pico Reja is an austere and powerful space. Simple but raw. A raw place of memory, as much as the reality that it puts in light”. Ormaza also specified that “this space is intended as a meeting place, structured around a living element: a tree. The tree as earth-sky link. A tree as a central point of reference, as a natural monolith”.

“And we are not going to stop there. The Seville City Council will always be with the just demands of democratic memory and the content of recent national legislation. In the years 2016 and 2017 we marked three large mass graves in the cemetery based on the studies of José Díaz Arriaza. These were Pico Reja, Monumento and Antigua. I want to announce that once we finish the work on Pico Reja, we will go further and start the file and the studies for the exhumation of the Monumento fossa in 2023”, as transferred by the aedile of Seville to the members of the Council of Democratic Memory.

Muñoz also advanced that work is underway on a large public act of homage “and reparation” to the victims of Francoism once the work on the mass grave of Pico Reja is completed with the entities that participate in the Council of Democratic Memory. , and also commented that the rehabilitation works of the income pavilion of the former prison of La Ranilla for its conversion into a center dedicated to democratic memory will end in a few weeks, so that throughout 2023 the project of museum.

Pico Reja is the largest open-air mass grave in Western Europe since Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The intervention for the exhumation, conservation and safekeeping of bone remains and biological samples from the tomb of Pico Reja in the San Fernando cemetery in Seville, carried out by the Aranzadi Scientific Society, is promoted by the Seville City Council. The work has the participation of the Spanish government, the Junta de Andalucía and the Diputación de Sevilla.

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