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Barcelona Bus Route To Park Güell Taken Off Maps Due To Overtourism

View from Park Güell, Barcelona
View from Park Güell, Barcelona [Image by Nikolaus Bader from Pixabay]
Park Güell is second only to the Sagrada Familia in popularity in Barcelona, Spain. Both are the incredible work of the late Antoni Gaudí, the famed Catalan Modernist architect. However, locals in the La Salut neighborhood of the city have had enough of hordes of tourists using their bus 116 route on the way to Park Güell. They have complained for years about sharing the bus route with tourists but finally, they have their bus back.

Residents in Barcelona celebrate after getting their 116 bus route back

What with Google and Apple maps, it’s usually easy to find your way around Barcelona, even if visiting for the first time. However, after residents of the La Salut neighborhood kept complaining about tourists using their number 116 bus route, the city council employed a novel tactic to keep the locals happy.

Park Guell entry
Entry to the park [Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay]
Barcelona is one of many popular European cities where overtourism is making residents’ lives difficult. Some have protested to the local authorities, while others have posted signs or stickers reading “Tourists go home.” However, Barcelona found the perfect way to keep the La Salut residents happy. They removed all traces of the number 116 bus route from Google and Apple Maps.

Now, the residents of the La Salut neighborhood are delighted with the unorthodox method used by authorities to deter tourist hordes. Elderly residents particularly struggled with the constant overcrowding on their route in the public transport service.

Overworked minibus

Park Guell
[Image courtesy Anne Sewell]
The number 116 bus route uses a compact, 20-seater minibus, which is small enough to travel through the neighborhood’s narrow streets. However, it fills up rapidly when tourists use it to head to Park Güell.

“Before, the bus was so full even people with walking sticks couldn’t get on,” Luz López, 75, told Spanish news site elDiario.es.

Meanwhile, César Sánchez, a local activist, told the UK’s Guardian that initially, they laughed at the idea. However, he added, “But we’re amazed that the measure has been so effective.”

Who removed the number 116 bus route from Google Maps?

Gaudi Museum
Gaudi Museum [Image courtesy Anne Sewell]
While it hasn’t officially been confirmed, the Barcelona city council is reportedly responsible for removing the bus route from Google and Apple Maps. Albert Batlle, the Deputy Mayor of Security and Coexistence on Barcelona’s City Council told the Guardian:

We needed to eliminate references to the 116 on the Internet.

While Batlle refused to admit or deny that the council removed the route, a Google spokesperson said bus routes can only be deleted on request from the City Council.

“The next thing we need to do is to get the whole of Park Güell removed from Google Maps,” joked Sánchez, who has been pushing the council to tackle the issue for the last eight years.

Why is Park Güell so popular?

Mosaic detail
Mosaic detail [Image by Anthony from Pixabay]
Park Güell was originally designed by Antoni Gaudí as a Catalan Modernist residential neighborhood. While that wasn’t to be, the park has a stunning collection of colorful, mosaic-clad buildings, squares and staircases, all designed in Gaudí’s iconic style as part of Catalan Modernism. Moreover, the architect did have his own house in Park Güell that visitors can now explore. Meanwhile, the park offers panoramic views over the city of Barcelona to the sea.

However, due to its popularity, hordes of tourists tend to roam the streets outside the park after being rejected entry due to not pre-booking entry to the popular attraction. However, the area is also popular for its excellent tapas bars and trendy fish restaurants.

Barcelona Tourist Bus
Hop-on-hop-off Tourist Bus [Image Barcelona Bus Turístic on Facebook]
It should be noted, however, that the park is readily available on Barcelona’s Hop-On-Hop-Off tourist bus which visits all the major attractions. Visitors can hop on or off anywhere along the route without having to pay any extra, and also, without upsetting the locals.


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