Following the controversial referendum and violent scenes in Barcelona last weekend, we consider if the city is safe to visit at the moment.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one stunned at the weekend when police battled voters who were attempting to cast ballots in the Catalonia independence referendum.
I adore Barcelona and the Catalan region and try to visit at least once per year. While I don’t have a strong opinion on the referendum, it is stunning that such violence could happen in a modern western democracy to prevent a democratic process from taking place.
From the perspective of a British traveller, all this begs the question: If you’ve planned a trip to Spain and in particular Barcelona, is it safe to go?
The current situation in Catalonia
Spain is facing a constitutional crisis at the moment and the situation is changing daily. However, there has been no further violence since Sunday. Barcelona has held a general strike to condemn police violence during the referendum, which meant that public transport, schools, universities and many businesses were closed on Monday. Huge crowds gathered in the centre of the city and political tensions are likely to remain high for the rest of this week.
The Catalan government resumes on Wednesday and it has been reported by the BBC that they may declare independence following the controversial ballot.
Our recommendation is that tourists should carry on with their plans, but keep an eye on breaking news and use common sense judgement when moving around the city and the wider region of Catalonia. Read our travel guide to Barcelona for more top tips.
The official word
The British Foreign Office has said that although protests could continue for several days, it is not advising against travelling to the region.
The official statement says: “Demonstrations have taken place in Barcelona and other areas of the Catalonia region and may continue for some days. They may occur with little or no warning and even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate and turn confrontational. You should exercise caution if you’re in the vicinity.”
“Demonstrations may also cause some disruption and delays to transport services. There have been calls for strike action which may also affect local services over the immediate period.”
However, not all countries agree with the British assessment. Both Croatia’s Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs warned Croatian students against visiting Barcelona.