In the old city of Salamanca, inside a small museum about the Spanish Civil War in the National Historical Archive building, you can find a strange area dedicated to Freemasonry, featuring an impressive Masonic lodge and a remarkable collection of seized objects.
The display looks strange and out of place the first time you see it without knowing its curious background. This is partly because, in spite of its modern look and disposition, the museum was created in 1938 by a member of dictator Francisco Franco’s government (Marcelino de Ulibarri) to scare the public about the dangers of Masonry.
During the years of the Spanish Civil War and later the Franco dictatorship, Freemasons were forbidden and all Masonic paraphernalia was seized in order to be exposed. To exhibit the stolen objects, an entire replica Masonic lodge was created based on a real lodge in Gijón, Spain.
On display in the temple, you’ll find books, medals, jewelry, documents, ceremonial clothing, Masonic symbols, and a reproduction of a Masonic Chamber of Reflection used by new members. The most shocking details, such as skulls or black masks, received special attention with the aim of shocking the public of the 1930s. Today they look like your usual Halloween decoration.
Strangely, the museum was never officially opened during the war. It wasn’t until 1993 that it finally opened to the public as a part of the historical exhibition in Salamanca’s Barrio Antiguo district, housed in a 17th-century building at Saint Ambrose College.