What are the Carmel Bunkers?
The Carmel Bunkers are an anti-aircraft battery, which were essential in Barcelona’s defensive system during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Located at the top of the hill “Turó de la Rovira”, at 262 meters above sea level, the old bunkers are now the perfect lookout over the city of Barcelona, with a unique 360 degrees panoramic view.
It is definitely mandatory when visiting Barcelona.
How to get to the Carmel Bunkers?
If there is something about Barcelona that I don’t complain about, is its great public transport network, as you can reach almost every corner in the city either by bus or metro. Either way, you won’t get out of walking a little towards the top. If you are not feeling like walking much, take the bus as it leaves you much closer than the metro.
We took the bus 24 at Passeig de Gràcia with Mallorca, the journey took us about 33 minutes and we got off at Doctor Bové – Gran Vista stop. This stop is at a split, where the bus route continues down the left road and you have to walk up the right road. There’s no loss from here, just walk uphill and climb some stairs for 10 minutes until you reach the bunkers.
There’s a few bus lines that bring you close to the bunkers (closer than the metro). V17, 24 and 119 during the day, then N4 and N5 at night, will get you to the Carmel neighbourhood. If you take V17 get off at Gran Vista – Turó de la Rovira, if you take the 24 get off at Doctor Bové – Gran Vista and if you take 119 get off at Gran Vista – Pl de la Mitja Lluna. Once you’re at either stop, you’re gonna have to walk about 5 to 10 minutes uphill to reach the top.
The closest metro stations are Alfons X and Guinardó/Hospital de Sant Pau, both stops from metro line 4 (yellow line). You can take the metro in Passeig de Gràcia and stop after 4 and 5 stops respectively. Take the exit towards Ronda Guinardó.
Once you’re here, the Bunkers are still 1.1km away. It is a 20-30 minute walk uphill.
If you don’t feel like walking and you’re not on a budget, the most comfortable way to get to the bunkers is by taxi. It will cost you around 10-12€ from the city centre.
When to go to the Bunkers?
For a while now, the bunkers have become a very popular place and a tourist attraction both for foreigners and locals. TV series, TV spots and films have been recorded here and because of the hype the place have become very well known. Instagram is full of it.
Due to its rising popularity I recommend, if possible, to visit it from Monday to Thursday to avoid the weekend masses, as a lot of people come up here to see the sunset over the city of Barcelona. Besides, they park their bums and have some beers and snacks to make the wait more pleasant.
To me, the best time to go up here is, with no doubt, at sunrise and sunset. These are the two most idyllic moments and when the light is more beautiful. Witnessing the city as it slowly wakes up has no price. It is free, to be precise. But since for most of us is hard to wake up early in the morning, the place is more full at sunset.
If due to logistics you have to go up during the day, just for your information, there’s no shade at the bunkers. Bring water, a hat or an umbrella because on a hot day in Barcelona it can get a little tough for those who are more used to colder climates.
What to wear to go to the Turó de la Rovira?
It is true that even getting to the bunkers by bus nobody takes you out of walking 5 to 10 minutes. But we are talking about 262 metres above sea level, not the Himalaya.
It is not necessary to be in good shape or wearing trekking shoes to get there. Truth be told, the way is uphill and there’s a few stairs if you’re doing the 30 minute walk from the metro, but nothing out of the ordinary.
In fact, I went up there with sandals 🙂
Lookout and views of Barcelona
From the top of Turó de la Rovira you will enjoy an exceptional panoramic view of Barcelona. In fact, is one of the best lookouts in Barcelona since you have a unique 360 degrees view from the entire city.
Two main panoramics can be seen, the seaside (where you can spot the main icons in the city) and the mountain side. Where you can see the surrounding less known neighbourhoods.
If you stand towards the sea, you can see, from left ro right: the 3 chimneys of Besòs Power Plant, the hotels and buildings of Diagonal Mar and the financial centre 22@, Castillejos street full of trees (in the centre), Mapfre Tower and Arts Hotel, Parc de la Ciutadella, La Sagrada Familia, W Hotel, the Cathedral, tower of Jaume I, the harbour (probably with some cruises tied) and Montjuic hill on the right side.
Mountain side views:
If you turn around and walk towards the edge of the mountain side, from left to right you can spot: the Collserola hill with the Telecommunications Tower, the Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón at the top of Tibidabo hill, as well as the neighbourhoods of Carmel, Horta, Vilapicina, La Clota or La Font d’en Fargues.
History of the Anti-aircraft batteries of Carmel
During the Spanish Civil War (17th July 1936 – 1st April 1939), the Special Defense Against Aircrafts of the Republic (DECA), found in “Turó de la Rovira” the perfect location to place an anti-aircraft battery.
The main objective of the construction of the battery in 1937, was of to defend Barcelona from the aerial attacks by the fascist aviation, led by Francisco Franco.
Within 2 years, Barcelona suffered about 200 bombings and finally the Republican side lost
the war. But this defense system, together with a wide net of underground shelters in the city, saved the lives of many people.
At post-war, the abandoned military structure was used to build a neighbourhood of shacks called Barraques dels Canons, which provided shelter to all the influx of immigrants who came back to the city after the war was over. This neighbourhood lasted from 1940 until 1990.
MUHBA Museum in Turó de la Rovira
In 2015 the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA) opened a little exhibition space of free access at the “Turó de la Rovira”.
In the free exhibition, one can find a brief review of Barcelona’s war and post-war history through filed pictures and videos, the anti-aircraft battery (history, operation and witnesses) and from the already disappeared Canons neighbourhood.
- PDF about the aerial siege and the city’s defense during Spanish Civil War (in Catalan): Planol_defensa_b.pdf
- PDF with more information about the bunkers’ history (in Catalan): GuiaCentreTuro.pdf
Wednesday and Friday: 16:30h-20:30h | Saturday: 16:30h-20:30h | Sunday: 10:30h-14:30 and 16:30h-20:30h
The museum also offers guided tours and itineraries:
- The defense of the modern city.
Duration: 1 hour | Price: 5,10€
- The Barcelona of War and Post-war. Perspectives from Turó de la Rovira.
Duration: 2 hours | Price: 7,35€
- The growth of the city from the 3 hills.
Duration: 3 hours | Price: 8,45€
Information and reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 93 256 21 22
Map of things to do in Turó de la Rovira
- Officials pavilion.
- Troop pavilion.
- Turó de la Rovira over time.
- Commanding place of the battery.
- The anti-aircraft battery of Turó de la Rovira.
- Shooting platform (a).
- Shooting platform (b).
- Canons neighbourhood.
- The informal city of shacks.
- Troop dorms (a).
- Troop dorms (b).
Curiosities and additional information about Carmel Bunkers
As a curiosity, just saying there’s a couple of peculiar houses near the bunkers. In one of them, located at Marià Labèrnia street, there’s a plaque that indicates the house was built by a Gaudi’s disciple, J.M. Jujol.
The other one, located at 11 Labèrnia street, doesn’t have any plaque but it has a very Gaudinian aesthetics, with the roof and the tower “Pedrera” style, made of the famous and colourful “trencadís”.
On another matter, you can see friends and families walking to the bunkers to enjoy the views, but you’ll realize this is also a very romantic place, where new couples come seal their first kiss in front of a magnificent sunset over the city.
You might have seen various yellow ribbons tied or painted on your way to the bunkers. These ribbons are painted in protests of incarcerated Catalan politicians, for almost carrying out the Independence of Catalunya. Those in favour of the independence paint and tie yellow ribbons as a form of protest, asking for the politicians freedom.
Finally, just mentioning the complaints of the neighbours living near the bunkers. They have made some mobilisations against the bunkers’ massification and the uncivic behaviour of some of their visitors.
I guess day by day, a balance will be reached where neighbours can still live their quite lives and tourism can enjoy this wonderful place in Turó de la Rovira.