Barcelona's Carmel Bunkers and overtourism, still a problem for locals

Residents complain of crowded buses and late-night parties despite 7:30 pm closure

Tourists taking a selfie at the Turó de la Rovira viewpoint
Tourists taking a selfie at the Turó de la Rovira viewpoint / Marta Vidal
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

August 14, 2023 10:55 AM

August 14, 2023 12:25 PM

Barcelona's Spanish Civil War era anti-aircraft defense system located on Turó de la Rovira hill is a popular spot with stunning 360º views of the city.

Colloquially known as the Carmel Bunkers despite there not being any bunkers in the area, the site has also long been a source of contention, and as tourists flock to the area to take in the breathtaking sights, locals complain of crowded public transport, large groups of people drinking in public, and loud parties late into the night in defiance of its 7:30 pm closing time. 

"What was once a historical landmark has become a place for public drinking and is hellish for residents," David Mar, an exasperated local, told the Catalan News Agency (ACN).

"Our public transport is packed because of this," he said, describing the V19 bus, which goes from the Barceloneta beachfront area to Turó de la Rovira, as a "tourist bus."

Other buses, such as the 24 or the 119, a small neighborhood bus that only runs twice an hour, are not immune to this phenomenon either. 

Turó de la Rovira residents complain of crowded public transport and late-night parties

"This is a neighborhood bus, not a tourist bus," another resident, Montserrat Jiménez, said of the 119, explaining that sometimes the buses would be too crowded to hop onto. "There are a lot of elderly people who live on this street and to see them get on the bus with their shopping – it's a shame."

Local authorities have been closing the Bunkers at night for the past few months, but this has not solved the problem either. 

"They fenced off the anti-aircraft defense system to prevent the drinking and the parties with DJs and whatnot, but things are the same," Jiménez said. "They'll close the site at 7:30 pm and there are two guards making sure nobody gets in, but now the problem is that everyone goes right beside it."

According to Jiménez, sometimes residents will call the local Guàrdia Urbana police to complain, but to no avail: "They don't come."

One of her neighbors, Joan Escayuela, says he has seen people jump the fence at night and has been woken up by people knocking on his door asking for bottle openers. 

"If local police enforced the ban on drinking in public, this problem would end," he said, arguing that the police should "confiscate" tourists' "bags full of alcohol."

The only solution many locals see to this problem is for the area to be "detouristified." Although how exactly that should take place remains unclear, banners calling for an end to street drinking and for the 119 to only be for residents abound on balconies. In the meantime, however, visitors keep on coming.