In the mid-1930s, a brutal civil war that historians claim served as a “dress rehearsal” for World War II broke out in Spain. As the Spanish Civil War escalated, Fascist General Francisco Franco requested military support from Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini. Mussolini sent a team of fighter pilots to mercilessly bomb the city of Barcelona, which was home to many Republicans opposed to Franco’s Nationalist agenda.
In the wake of a particularly punishing air raid, anti-Franco Republican fighters decided to construct a lookout point equipped with artillery atop a hill called Turó de la Rovira to help deter future aerial attacks. Prior to the Spanish Civil War, Turó de la Rovira was an agricultural region dotted with vineyards and olive trees. The anti-aircraft outpost constructed by the Republicans was christened Bunkers del Carmel, featuring several large gun platforms and bunkers.
After the Spanish Civil War concluded, Bunkers del Carmel ballooned into a shantytown populated by rustic houses constructed out of salvaged materials. At one point, nearly 7% of Barcelona’s population lived in Bunkers del Carmel. The Spanish government turned a blind eye to the area until Barcelona won the bid to host the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. Prior to the Olympics, the residents of Bunkers del Carmel were relocated, and there was an effort to beautify the area.
In recent years, Bunkers del Carmel has been considerably spruced up. The city of Barcelona planted Mediterranean pine trees, added handrails, and installed several plaques delving into the history of Bunkers del Carmel. Visitors can climb to the top of Bunkers del Carmel free of charge to experience a panoramic view of the city of Barcelona.
In the ’90s, Bunkers del Carmel was a fairly obscure location. In the year 2000, the area started to gain traction among tourists and is now one of the most scenic vantage points in all of Barcelona. Visitors can gain an elevated view of iconic landmarks such as La Sagrada Familia, Montjuïc Hill, and The Gothic Quarter, along with a glimpse of the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The trek up to Bunkers del Carmel is slightly taxing, so wearing comfortable shoes and packing water and snacks is advisable. If you work up an appetite, nearby Restaurante Delicias serves delectable food, coffee, and adult beverages. You can also stop at a grocery store prior to your expedition to the top of Bunkers del Carmel to pick up some delicious Ibérico ham and Manchego cheese.
Bunkers del Carmel may have had a tumultuous beginning during the fraught days of the Spanish Civil War, but now the area is a peaceful vantage point where visitors can take in the sweeping beauty of Barcelona. Even though Bunkers del Carmel has become increasingly popular, visitors still get the sensation that they have stumbled upon a closely guarded local secret when they are greeted by an expansive view of the gorgeous city of Barcelona.
Av. de l’Estatut de Catalunya