The Camino and the Spanish Civil War (part 2 – Navarra)

Camino disc marker on the Calle Mayor, Pamplona (image author’s own)

As you walk through Pamplona, you are guided along the Camino by the usual yellow arrows and occasional blue sign, but also by a series of shiny aluminum discs embedded in the pavements, with an engraved shell-star and a little biker symbol (I’ll confess that it was probably my third visit to Pamplona when I had that eureka moment and recognised it was meant to be someone on a bike!).  But along the streets of the old part of the city you’ll also find small square gold plaques, bolted on the ground by various doorways.  Quite at random, I took a picture of one of these on the Calle Mayor.  In Euskera (Basque) and Spanish, it reads:

Here lived Ramón Bengaray Zabalza [born] 2nd February 1896, assassinated in Pamplona, 24th of August 1936.

Memorial plaque to Ramón Bengaray Zabalza, victim of the Spanish Civil War, Calle Mayor, Pamplona (image author’s own)

Of course, the date August 1936 screams ‘Civil War’, and unsurprisingly Ramón Bengaray Zabalza was an early victim of the war.  Navarra overwhelmingly went with the rebels at the outset of the insurrection, but Bengaray — who was a trade unionist, local politician and director of Osasuna football club (which still plays in the topflight of La Liga alongside the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona) — was one of the minority that stayed loyal to the government.  What exactly happened to him?  Well, 24th of August is a guess; when exactly he was abducted, when he was shot, where he was buried/dumped, all remain a mystery.

The silver discs lead you out of the city toward Alto del Perdón — the Hill of Forgiveness; whether the gold plaques lead somewhere similar I’m not sure, but they remind us where we’ve been.

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