The uncertain future of Barcelona’s Port Vell, with the Imax pending demolition and an almost deserted Maremagnum

35 years ago, Barcelona won the first Olympic Games in the history of Spain, those of 1992. The victory was announced on October 17, 1986, and the Catalan capital had never had so many eyes on it. At that time a great renewal campaign was launched under the slogan “Barcelona, ​​make yourself pretty” that, among other things, made us remember that we had the sea right there, although nobody saw it.

The mythical opening of Barcelona to the sea brought with it the transformation of Port Vell, an area that historically was dedicated to fishing, and that on the occasion of the games was transformed into a space of enjoyment for citizens. There is the Dock of Spain, where facilities such as the Aquàrium, the IMAX, the Maremagnum Shopping Center and some cinemas with the same name.

For several years, the Moll d’Espanya was a regular walking space for tourists, families and school excursions. Now, however, it looks increasingly poorer and cries out for its renewal. In fact, two of its largest equipment have been around for more than six years. abandoned, while the survival of someone else hangs on by a thread.

Abandoned cinemas

The first icon to close was the IMAX Port Vell. A 3D movie theater that, although it had its moment of glory, ended up going out of style. The one in Barcelona was the first room in Spain, built in 1995. It was followed by two more in Madrid, one in Valencia and also in Mallorca. Today there are none left. The IMAX Port Vell closed in 2014.

The property and the Port have been considering different proposals for years to save the facilities. Among them, the construction of another shopping center, expanding the Aquàrium or converting the cinema into a theater. None finished convincing, so that in February 2020 the Port of Barcelona confirmed thatwill tear down the building. However, today there is still no date for the demolition, as reported by the Port to this newspaper.

A year ago it was decided to demolish the IMAX Port Vell building, but there is still no date to carry it out

The Imax cinemas before its closure, in 2011.

The IMAX is not the only abandoned movie theater in Moll d’Espanya. Right in front of the shopping center there is a glass building where you can still read ‘Marines Cinema’ in large letters. These, however, they closed in 2015.

The Maremagnum Cinemas were managed by the company Chinese, that he did not want to renew the contract when it ended. In its day, Cinesa argued that the building required a major reform whose cost it was not willing to bear. Six years later, the facility is still there, and it hasn’t been put to any new use either. For their part, sources from the Port of Barcelona assure that it is not yet known what will happen to him.

Maremagnum cinemas in Barcelona, ​​in a file image.
Maremagnum cinemas in Barcelona, ​​in a file image.

The Maremagnum, increasingly empty

Right in front of the cinemas we find the Maremagnum Shopping Center, whose future is also uncertain. Like the IMAX and the Aquàrium, it was inaugurated in 1995. At first, its offer focused mainly on the nightlife, with bars and discos. But it ended up becoming the scene of multiple fights and even a murder, so he had to change the concept. Thus, the Maremagnum became a daytime facility, more focused on retail stores. fashion and restoration, known for having everything open even on Sundays.

Today, the mall has a less attractive appearance. If we choose to enter, we will see at least a dozen shutters lowered. One of the establishments that decided to leave the center in 2020 was the giant H&M, which assured that its flight from Maremagnum was not precisely due to Covid-19. “These closures are in no way related to the current situation of Covid-19”, They explained from H&M. “It is a natural part of the business to constantly review the store portfolio and follow its evolution, which can result in both closings and openings,” they argued.

Likewise, the top floor of the center is practically abandoned. And that it was renovated and reopened in 2012 under the name of “La Terraza”, with the aim of turning it into a gastronomic space with sea views.

Exterior of the Maremagnum shopping center in Barcelona, ​​in a file image.
Exterior of the Maremagnum shopping center in Barcelona, ​​in a file image.

What future awaits the Maremagnum? For now, it seems that the building will not be abandoned like the previous ones. Today there is news that the company Time Out is negotiating to open a new gastronomy and culture market in the facility that occupies the shopping center.

The Time Out company negotiates to open a gastronomy and culture market in the Maremagnum space

In fact, in December 2020, Time Out sources assured that the talks they were “advanced.” As of today, the group has nine ‘Time Out Markets’ scattered around the world. Specifically in New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, London, Lisbon, Prague and Dubai. Maybe Barcelona is next.

Fish do stay

But not everything was going to be decadence. In the Moll d’Espanya there is a great icon that will survive, it seems, a few more years. Is about The Barcelona Aquarium. Last year, the Port accepted extend the concession for twelve more years to Aspeo Ocio AS, the company that manages it. Thus, the concession to operate the Aquàrium will end in December 2039, instead of 2027 as planned.

L’Aquàrium de Barcelona is the largest marine center in the world in terms of Mediterranean fauna. In 2020 it celebrated its 25th anniversary and, after its closure by Covid-19, the team ensured that during the State of alarm the activity did not stop. In fact, they reported that the 11,000 species that inhabit it “they have kept their life cycle intact”The work of the biologists and the maintenance team, who were working “with the dedication of always”, did not stop either.

Exterior of L'Àquàrium de Barcelona, ​​in an archive image.
Exterior of L’Aquàrium de Barcelona, ​​in a file image.
The Aquarium – Cedida


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