By Jo Pugh •
Published: 24 Sep 2023 • 10:46
Adapted facilities and accessible guides are now a reality in Spain. Credit: Freepik
There are more and more initiatives in Spain that guarantee cultural tourism which is accessible to all. Adapted routes, specialised services, adapted facilities and accessible guides are now a reality in Spain.
Here are some of the options in the main cities and sights for people with disabilities.
There are scheduled guided tours adapted for people with disabilities, whether physical, visual, mental or auditory. Visit Madrid’s ‘art triangle’ in a wheelchair, without worrying about architectural barriers, go sightseeing or explore the district of Las Letras with voice-amplified guides, or experience the traditional Christmas celebrations to the full.
All this is possible thanks to these special routes. If you want to take part, you just have to sign up in advance at the tourist office.
Plus, major museums such as the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofía National Art Museum have accessible facilities. However, if there is one museum designed especially for people with disabilities it’s the Typhlological Museum, where, among other activities, you can use your hands to explore models of famous monuments like the Royal Palace in Madrid, the Alhambra in Granada and the Aqueduct in Segovia.
Two of the most accessible cultural areas in Barcelona are the Gothic Quarter and the Art Nouveau Route. The Gothic Quarter is part of the old city centre of Barcelona, around the Cathedral, which is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
On the Art Nouveau Route you can enjoy the works of Gaudí with buildings like La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. You can also visit the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, both accessible to people with reduced mobility. These four sites have the UNESCO World Heritage designation and the first three have tactile models to enhance your visit.
Another interesting location in the city is Montjuic Park, in southwest Barcelona, along with the Catalonia National Art Museum, which has disabled access. There is a stunning view of the city from the top of Montjuic Park.
You can still enjoy the view if you have reduced mobility, thanks to the adapted cable car.
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and the Museum of the History of Catalonia are also free of architectural barriers and offer accessible activities and information.Audio guides are also available for Barcelona’s main routes and monuments, as well as adapted services which you can consult on their website.
There are more and more cities in Spain with routes which eliminate architectural barriers.
A good example is the group of World Heritage Cities. Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Baeza, Cáceres, Córdoba, Cuenca, Eivissa, Mérida, Salamanca, San Cristóbal de la Laguna, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Tarragona, Toledo and Úbeda all have accessible routes for touring most of their heritage areas.
This is also true in Zaragoza, with an itinerary of monuments that are fully accessible to people with reduced mobility, such as the basilica of El Pilar, the symbol of the city, and the Lonja building.
Others, like the tower of the basilica of El Pilar and the Cathedral of San Salvador, are accessible but you will either need someone to help you or you can ask them to open an alternative entrance.
Similarly, in Valencia you can explore the parks and sights along the former bed of the river Turia, the historic quarter, or the avant-garde City of Arts and Sciences, all of which are accessible, as are many more museums and monuments. You can consult them on the online guide to the city.
The European Commission has recognised the good practices of several destinations with the Access City Awards.
These cities include Ávila, in Castilla y León; Pamplona, in Navarre; and Lugo and Vigo, in Galicia.
Avila’s city wall is an outstanding example – its most recent refurbishment includes access points for people with reduced mobility. In fact, Avila was highlighted as an example of accessibility at the International Congress on Tourism For All, organised in Spain by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).
In Pamplona, the walls of the Citadel are also accessible for people with reduced mobility.
Lugo provides maps and information plaques in braille on some sites, and pictograms to help people with autism enjoy the provincial museum. And in Vigo, lifts have been installed in places where there are changes in level on tours of the city.
Another interesting option, especially given the initial complexity of ensuring accessibility for people with reduced mobility, is a visit to prehistoric caves. You can do this, for example, in northern Spain in the region of Cantabria at El Soplao Cave and the Altamira Museum, where there is an exact copy of the original cave.
An app is also available for people with functional diversity and auditory disabilities.
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Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.
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