Barcelona is one of those places that feels a little impossible upon your first visit. It’s like Disneyland: The architecture can’t really be that ornate, the public art can’t really be that well-preserved, the pá amb tomaquet can’t really be that satisfying. But after a day or so of wide-eyed wandering, you start to figure out that it really is that good. Now, the city is taking measures to preserve the very crux of Barcelona’s unique culture: its bodegas and wine bars.
Food & Wine reports that as of last month, Barcelona’s city council has granted 11 of the city’s signature bodegas status as “protected sites” due to their contribution to the city’s unique culture and heritage. The distinction is part of an ongoing effort to combat gentrification and protect businesses and historic districts from one-size-fits-all development. It’s also a great way to ensure that residents and visitors will be able to continue the grand tradition of savoring platters of jamón in centuries-old buildings.
The 11 bodegas that made the cut are scattered throughout Barcelona’s 10 districts: Bodega Vendrell, Bodega Sopena, Bar del Toro, Celler Miquel, Bodega Salvat, Bodega Marín, Bodega Quimet, Bodega Manolo, Bodega Massana, Bodega Lluís, and Bodega J. Cala.
Food & Wine does clarify that the distinction protects the buildings themselves, but it doesn’t actually do anything to keep the businesses inside them operational. That’s troubling, especially since bars and restaurants remain closed throughout Catalonia amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Catalonian government even closed its borders in an effort to contain the virus. Still, the bodegas’ protected status bodes well in a time when beloved neighborhood establishments are devoured by sinister, uniformly rectangular chains seemingly overnight.