The consideration of defensive works built by military engineering as cultural properties in our country is recent. An infamous decree approved in 1949 was an ambiguous first step towards this; however it was in a clear medievalist direction which didn’t deeply study the bastioned fortresses of the mid-16th century and far from studied later fortifications. The Ley del Patrimonio Histórico Español (Spanish Historic Heritage Law) of 1985 and the following autonomous region law of 1993 corrected the 1949 decree’s ambiguities, nevertheless the truly effective protection, which is given by the society, hadn’t yet become a reality.
As a consequence of this, it was often difficult for people to accept the military monuments of Catalonia as cultural properties. This situation undoubtedly brought into practise the alternative use of these monuments which damaged their integrity as historical monuments. Paradoxically, these proceedings were encouraged by people acting in good faith who thought they were protecting the ruins from demolition of their past. However, in reality, we inherited some monuments from which it is impossible to interpret an authentic history.
That’s the reason why today the ownership of military monuments, either public or private, must be sensitive and keep a careful attitude toward some activities that could alter their educational and original characteristics, in other words its authenticity. The space in the country’s cultural imagination is not yet a wide and solid enough space for its military monuments and it wouldn’t be right to deprive them of the protection of a well-informed public opinion.
Nowadays when unthinking expenses have caused a compulsory austerity, processes which damage sites have been left on hold, which gives some hope. So maybe our message can reach a larger part of the population before the value of the military monuments as cultural properties disappears. Let’s not forget: “The intrinsic worth of a monument as a cultural property becomes blurred if the actions that take place inside distort its nature as the most faithful possible witness of the reason for that which it was built.”