Auritz/Burguete Bunker Route
The Auritz/Burguete Bunker Route situates us in the tumultuous 20th century. Following the border, marked by the peaks of the Pyrenees, we discover the remains of the construction and development of the fortified line that was planned from the time of the Spanish Civil War.
For nearly 20 years immediately following the post-war period, as soon as the Second World War exploded in the continent, infrastructure and 169 Resistance Centres(i) were built on these rugged peaks. Consequently, thousands of bunkers mark the frontier with France from the Cantabrian Sea to the Mediterranean.
One suggestion, to visit some of these routes, is to download the map and see the bunkers and defensive structures that you will find along the way and which comprise the historic heritage which is now being repaired to create the experience of discovering spaces loaded with history.
In these perfectly camouflaged bunkers and heavy concrete vaults dotted over our mountains you will find placards with QR codes where you can access the contents that make up the Auritz/Burguete Bunker Route. Accessible routes(ii) and incomparable landscape, where you will learn about one of the least known episodes of our history. They give us an idea of the working conditions, the impact of this construction project on the local population and the underlying doctrine behind this enormous defensive wall.
Now, it only remains for you to explore the leafy beech forests and the high peaks to discover a piece of the history of this small region, but which also belongs to all Europe; an exercise which will beat the passing of time and keep alive the memory of those who came before us.
The methodology used is the combination of: archaeological fieldwork, archival research and intuition. As the historian Hernández Sánchez says (2016): “Because for archaeology a soft brush, a spatula and a dental probe are not enough, you also need picks and shovels”(iii)
- (i) What is a resistance centre? A Resistance Centre (RC) or Resistance Nucleus, in military jargon, is a group of bunkers and other structures oval in shape that form a unit, designed to defend an area of land. The orography and possible strategic value determine their size and number of elements, which tend to vary between 30 and 40. A resistance centre is designed as an element that can defend itself and grouped together they form a comprehensive defense structure along the whole border.
- (ii) Warning. Good practices. Welcome. We find ourselves in an area of natural and cultural heritage. This means that there are some basic rules of preservation to be followed. Respect the natural environment. Do not generate waste. Do not up-root or destroy the vegetation. Do not paint or damage the bunkers. Some of them, for more than 70 years, have formed part of the countryside and belong to our history and heritage. Observe, photograph, stroll around but look after and preserve this heritage. Take extra care when you enter the bunkers. Many of these ruins are not prepared for visitors.
- (iii) Fernando Hernández Sánchez: El Bulldozer negro del General Franco, Barcelona, Pasado&Presente, 2016, p. 14.