Tourists Should Avoid This Dangerous TikTok Trend When Visiting Spain's Sagrada Família

Travelers in Spain can now add "shoot TikTok videos on a moving escalator" to the list of things tourists should never do when visiting Barcelona. In particular, you'll want to avoid shooting videos and taking selfies on the subway escalator leading up to Sagrada Família, the famous Catholic church. Sagrada Família receives over 4.5 million visitors a year and is arguably Barcelona's most well-known landmark. It's also the name of a station that serves two Barcelona metro lines, L2 and L5. As you can see in the video below from @zuzia_bankiewicz, the station's escalator offers a stunning view of the church as you emerge from underground. This has made it fodder for the viral TikTok trend whereby people film themselves dancing or striking poses on escalators as the background changes.


the prettiest metro exit ever🫠 #barcelona #sagradafamilia #fypシ #dc #view

♬ original sound – driptunes

The problem arises when Sagrada Família visitors block the opening of the subway station or otherwise hold up the escalator while trying to get the perfect shot. It's a trend that's dangerous, not only because people could lose their balance, but because they now risk being taken to task by the guards who stand watch over the escalator. The guards are there to enforce the multilingual signs put up in April 2024, reading, "Danger of entrapment: Do not take photos or videos while moving on the escalator." A representative for TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona), which operates the station, told Thrillist that the signs and security personnel have been added as a direct result of people's TikTok theatrics.

The ban on videos could help prevent escalator accidents

If you've ever seen surveillance footage in the news of someone falling down an escalator, it can be horrific enough when it's just one person, let alone an entire line of people. The trouble with the escalator to Sagrada Família is that it gets crowded with visitors to Barcelona's top tourist attraction. In other international cities like Boston, Rome, and Hong Kong, there have been headline-making incidents where packed escalators suddenly went haywire and flattened, accelerated, or started moving backward. When you see footage of such incidents and it gets lodged in your brain, it's easy to imagine something similar happening even on an escalator that's working properly.

All it might take is one distracted, dancing TikToker falling backward to start a domino effect, with people tumbling down the escalator and piling up all over each other at the bottom (as in other noteworthy accidents). From this perspective, it's understandable why TMB would prohibit photography and videography on Sagrada Família's station escalator. The ban also cuts down on the aggravation to locals, people who use the same station for work in the area and not sightseeing — only to have TikTokers interfere with the flow of their commute. That said, it's somewhat ironic that the ban is being enforced so strictly in Barcelona, given that Sagrada Família itself was erected illegally over many decades, without the necessary building permit for it to undergo construction in the first place.

Permits and fines in Barcelona

Sagrada Família is one of many must-see structures that took hundreds of years to build. Its construction has spanned over 140 years, outliving its early builders, including Antoni Gaudi, the architect who designed the church, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begun in 1882, the project is scheduled for its historic completion in 2026, the 100-year anniversary of Gaudi's death (though putting the finishing touches on it will reportedly last until 2034). Yet it was only in 2019 that the Catholic Church obtained the permit to build Sagrada Família.

In the same way the church constructed Gaudi's masterpiece illegally, some visitors may be intent on ignoring the signs and filming their own TikTok mini-masterpiece on the nearby station escalator. Per Thrillist, you won't be fined for breaking this particular rule in Barcelona. (Spitting is actually the habit that could get you fined in the popular European city.) However, a guard may order you to stop, especially if you call attention to yourself by placing your phone camera on the steps above you to capture a wider view.

In the U.S., the recent signing of a conditional TikTok ban into law means the platform may not even be around stateside when Sagrada Família is finally completed. In the meantime, it's already effectively banned from the nearest escalator in Barcelona. While Spain might not consider it a national security threat like the U.S. government, TikToking on the escalator could still pose a safety threat.