The Pedro José estate, now the Peace Courts, harbor one of the most important traces that the Spanish Civil War has left in the landscape of Alicante: a tunnel-type anti-aircraft refuge, protagonist of the concluding chapter of the conflict.
This kind of constructions, through the amendment of the law of cultural heritage in this community, are considered property of local relevance, and therefore are protected. Until a few years ago, these were hidden, but thanks to the work of recovery and divulgation of the Historical Memory we can know about these elements, silent witnesses of the episodes of which they were protagonists.
Despite that the city of Alicante was the objective of the bombing due to its condition of Republican rearguard during the conflict, Sant Joan d ‘Alacant, as a geographical centre of “la Huera Alicantina”, was the location of several of these private refuges on estates seized by the military. Among them, we find the Finca El Reloj, occupied by General José Miaja. In addition, Sant Joan d’Alacant was also a destination for those Alicante citizens who, terrified, run away every night taking the tram to spend the night in the neighbouring towns of the “Huerta Alicante”, an episode known as “the column of the fear”.
The location of the anti-aircraft shelter on the Pedro José estate has been possible thanks to the ethnographic research. This has allowed us to know that at the beginning of the war the Ivorra family was seized, which had to be transferred to another farm and became the residence of the lieutenant of the carabineros José Muñoz Vizcaíno, who ordered the construction of the antiaircraft shelter under the house. Among the oral sources consulted, stand out the last owner of the estate, Carmen Ivorra and the daughter of the landlady of the estate, Rafaela Baeza Seva, who made a description of how they remembered the structure and the entrances that it had.
Based on this information, it was possible to begin the intervention phase in 2016 and 2017, guided by an archaeological survey of the entrances and the subsequent excavation of them, which has revealed an antiaircraft refuge with three entrances: the first, on the main façade of the house; the second, in the back; and a third that it is not accurately located but that is known that it would relate to the cellar of the house. This entry, according to the oral sources, was large, and it would be the main entrance. The other two entrances have been excavated revealing the stairs and the central aisle.
The central room of the shelter has a cupboard and a small shelf. In addition, a barn has been discovered closing the corridor that would communicate with the cellar. This barn was built in the postwar period, when the Ivorra family returned to the estate. There are also some elements that would indicate the presence of lighting inside the shelter.
Beyond its architectural characteristics, this refuge stands out because it was the scene of the last chapter of the Spanish Civil War: the change of powers of the capital of Alicante, a diplomatic claudication that would seal the end of the conflict. The representative of Falange in Alicante, José Mallol Alberola, was in charge of negotiating with Lieutenant Colonel of Carabineros Jose Muñoz Vizcaíno to organize a bloodless end of the war in the province. This negotiation took place in the cellar of the refuge in a series of interviews between both of them. Once the authorities of Alicante left the city, Jose Muñoz acquired the position of military governor, making effective the transference in an office on the capital. Jose Mallol, acquired the position of civil governor being in command until the entrance of the troops in the city. Thanks to Mallol’s autobiography “La Estampida” (2000), these historical events have been documented, among other historically rigorous publications such as the publication of Aldeguer and Santo (1999), “Alicante, 1939”.
In the last years, as a result of the revaluation of the traces of the defensive and military heritage that have survived to the present day, it has led local leaders to become aware in their locality of the tourist and educational potential that these resources have in the contribution of the symbolic values that identify a territory. Undoubtedly, the refuge of the Finca Pedro José combines this potential as well as is the only one excavated today in the municipality. It is, therefore, logical to propose the enhancement of their value and their musealization. With this proposal, we try to reach a greater historical understanding and a knowledge of the territory shared by Alicante and Sant Joan during the period of the Spanish Civil War. Thus, the Pedro José refuge would become part of an essential stop of a route on the defensive heritage of the Civil War between both localities in order to offer alternative tourism to the “sun and beach” that is so characteristic of the Costa Blanca.