Barcelona’s Underground Labyrinthine

Written by DEKYA

In the hustle and bustle of central Barcelona lies a secret…. a web of tunnels running beneath the streets, remnants of the dark days when the city was systematically bombed during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Some 1,400 of these labyrinthine air raid shelters were constructed there during those years, mainly serving as a refuge for citizens from aerial attacks, predominantly by Italian forces under Mussolini.

However today only a handful remain, and of those, just a handful are open to the public. The best preserved is Refugi 307, located in Poble Sec, a neighborhood just east of the city centre. Literally carved into the sandstone bedrock of Montjuïc, one of the many mountains surrounding Barcelona, Refugi 307 was one of the city’s largest bomb shelters—three entrances leading to 650 feet of tunnels, with a capacity for 2,000 people. What make these tunnels even more incredible is that trained engineers didn’t build this underground maze but local citizens did, mostly women, children, and the elderly (since most men were conscripted to the front lines). Furthermore It had running water (supplied naturally by the mountain), six toilets (separated by sex), and even a small infirmary with bunk beds. Battery-operated lamps illuminated the tunnels, which were built in a zig-zag fashion to avoid the impact of a full blast; the clay-brick walls and vaulted ceilings were painted white, both for disinfection purposes and to give people the illusion of light.

The architecture and stories behind this place are truly amazing and it is certainly worth checking out for a curious mind!