The 307 Air-Raid Shelter, whose original name in Catalan is Refugi 307, is one of more than 1400 air raid shelters that were constructed in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, and that protected its inhabitants from the systematic bombings that the city suffered.
Its name doesn’t refer to any relevant historic moment, but it was the 307th refuge that was registered in Barcelona’s city hall. Unlike what happened with the majority of the city’s shelters, which were built underground, the Refugi 307 was built above ground because it took advantage of the foot of Montjuïc Mountain, the Poble Sec neighborhood, in order to dig its network of tunnels.
History of Barcelona’s air raid shelters
The Spanish Civil War has very much left its mark on various areas of the city, such as the walls of the church in the Plaça de Sant Felip Neri and in the Carmel bunkers at the top of the Turó de la Rovira. The air raid shelters are some key elements during the Spanish Civil War that still remain, and that allowed the civil population to shelter during the air bombings. Their construction was ordered by the Catalan government and the city council, and was helped by the city’s residents, many of which were children, women and the elderly, as the young men were fighting on the front. When the approach of enemy aircraft was detected, sirens were sounded across the city and a warning was issued by radio, at which point the people quickly took refuge in the nearest air raid shelter.
Refugi Plaça del Diamant
Refugi Palau de les Heures
Refugi Plaça de la Revolució
Life in Refugi 307
When the construction of Refugi 307 began, a network of tunnels spanning 400 metres in length was designed, with the idea that it would fit around 2000 people in it, but by the time the war had ended, only half of these tunnels had actually been constructed. The tunnels are approximately 2.1 metres high and have a width ranging from 1.5 to 2 metres. In order to avoid bottlenecks when people entered the shelter, three access points were built, that led to a zig-zag shaped tunnel, designed to avoid the spreading of shrapnel inside, in the event of a bomb being dropped near to one of the entrances.
Inside the shelter there were all the essentials for the people who had to spend time down there, so that they were as comfortable as possible. There was a small infirmary, a kitchen, communal toilets, a water supply that came from Montjuïc Mountain and even a dedicated area where the young children could play and to be distracted from the worrying events that were taking place in the outside world.
The Air-Raid Shelter Nowadays
At the end of the war the shelter was totally abandoned but over time it has had many uses, from a storage facility for a local glass factory to the home of a gypsy family, from which the fireplace that the residents used still survives. Years later, after a series of works carried out on the site to make it suitable for visitors, it became part of Barcelona’s History Museum (MUHBA).
Along the tunnels of the shelter you can see the remains of messages that were inscribed in its walls, such as “the promotion of pessimism is prohibited” and “it’s prohibited to speak about politics”, the idea of which was to keep up the morale of everyone who was in there, as they were critical and tense times which could easily provoke unrest and upset.
Guided tours to visit the Refugi 307
The MUHBA (Barcelona’s History Museum) organises a series of guided tours, the aim of which is to raise awareness of a part of the city and the country’s most terrible history, as well as to educate people about the horrors of a war that made no distinction between civilians and servicemen. The visit is highly recommended for anyone who is passionate about history as well as anyone who is keen to learn more about the city’s history.
Due to the narrow dimensions of the tunnels, the visit isn’t recommended for people who suffer from claustrophobia, or aren’t comfortable with being in enclosed spaces. However, we should say that there are areas of the tunnels that are slightly wider, and as the majority of the route is lit up it shouldn’t feel too overwhelming when you are inside.
The guided tour, which is carried out in English, Spanish and Catalan and lasts around 45 minutes, starts with some background information outside, where there is a series of photos and informative panels (in Catalan, Spanish and English), that explain to the visitor everything that went on during these agonising years. The guide goes into detail about each of the photos and the information they give takes us back to one of the most tragic periods that the city has lived through. Once you’ve had the introduction, during which you can ask the guide any questions that you’d like answered, you’ll go into the shelter itself. Once inside, the guide will continue to give you more information as you walk through the tunnels.
c/ (street) Nou de la Rambla 169, Barcelona.
Guided tours on Sundays: at 10:30 in English, at 11:30 in Spanish and at 12:30 in Catalan.
Guided tours for groups: in English, French, Spanish and Catalan from Mondays to Saturdays, by prior arrangement. You will need to make a reservation by email on email@example.com or by phone on (0034) 932.562.122.
Closed: 1st January, 1st May, 24th June and 25th December.
General admission: 3,40€