Nine months into the COVID pandemic, many bars are beginning to shutter damaging the cultural landscapes of cities across the globe. However, in Barcelona, the City Council not only acknowledged classic drinking spots as a key part of the city’s zeitgeist, but they are protecting them as such. Last week, the government classified eleven bodegas as protected cultural landmarks.
Bodegas are as with Spanish staple, taverns with food and an emphasis on wine, sherry, cider, and vermouth. The designation will protect the buildings and elements of the interior from change. (Much the chagrin of hospitality activists,) the businesses themselves will not be covered by the mark, but they will qualify for special tax credits, grants, and other financial incentives.
According to La Vanguardia, the Council stated that the bodegas hold “important social roots in their surroundings, which preserve aspects of environmental interest and originality factors linked to the history of the uses and customs of the neighborhoods or to some event or historical element that can give meaning to their conservation as an element memory.”
Originally, 31 sites were nominated for landmark status. Yet, the majority did not make the cut due to a lack of proper documentation.
The eleven protected sites will join eight previously designated bodegas on the landmark list. The complete roster includes 220 sites, primarily shops, within the city.
The concept of a bar as a key part of the cityscape is not new. The idea has been tossed about by many a barstool philosopher for centuries. Jane Jacobs also made the point more eloquently in her classic tome, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”