Last week I spent a day in the center of Barcelona after the government had lifted the lockdown. A unique opportunity to experience the city without tourists. Until July 2020 we will have Barcelona to ourselves.
We wandered through El Barrio Gótico and El Born and little by little our anticipated pleasure of a city without tourism turned into confusion. Half of the typical “locales” (small shops) are for rent. Some shops were open but there was nobody on the streets to buy their products.
El Parc de la Ciutadella is a well known park; always full of tourists, its grass cut, the trees and bushes neatly trimmed and the park in general well maintained.
I took these photos on the day of our visit. At first sight one notices an oasis of tranquility compared to the hectic metropolis that Barcelona was prior to March 2020. But the more I look at them the more I realise that Barcelona has lost its soul. As if the gardeners have lost their inspiration to maintain the park. From an objective point of view I like the way it is now, but at the same time we know that the centre of Barcelona was the domain of mass tourism. Almost all original city dwellers have moved to other places. So what will remain when the majority of the tourists stay away?
Or will they come back on a scale that makes it worthwhile opening new shops and give the city back its lively appearance with quality tourism?
If not, I foresee what happened after the crisis to Porto in Portugal in 2012 when I saw entirely abandoned streets in its city center.
The photos that I took in El Parc de la Ciutadella show a haunting resemblance.