For the 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona rediscovered the sea. It beefed up its beachfront using thousands of tons of sand, and the area is now packed with tourists and lined with beach bars. Barcelona’s beach may be partly artificial, but it’s big business.
The way things are going, however, soon there won’t be any beach at all. Across Catalonia, rising sea levels and winter storms are eating away at the coastline. Up to now, what is washed away in winter has been replenished in spring with sand dredged from within the breakwaters or from estuaries and ports. However, the practice of “enhancing” beaches in this way is now widely seen as futile and environmentally damaging. Without it, little by little, the city’s beaches could revert to the gravelly strips they were only 30 years ago.