March 11th Memorial

We’ve just been to see the memorial to Madrid’s March 11th 2004 train bombings. It’s a small hill and area of landscapes gardens in the Retiro Park, where Ecuadorians used to gather at weekends to eat, drink, and play football and volleyball. The place used to be a tip on Monday mornings and you can’t help thinking that by putting the memorial here the council has killed two birds with one stone: got rid of the mess and put up the monument. But still, it was the only empty space big enough in the park to put a decent sized memorial like this.

It is very well done, and testament to the fact that the Spanish really can get some hard work done when they put their mind to it. The mound is surrounded by a wide moat, and has a path curling around the turfed, terraced levels to the top. One hundred and ninety something trees, slender firs and solid olives, have been planted on the different levels of the mound, representing the number killed in the bombings. You really do get the feeling that each tree tangibly reflects one life that was lost, that this is an incredibly appropriate and evocative memorial – so much so that even bushing past the leaves of these trees provokes some kind of connection between you and a no-longer someone.

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