LA Plaza de Toros Monumental, Barcelona’s former major bullfighting stadium, may become the world’s largest mosque outside the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
According to Mowafak Kanfach of the Islamic Federation of Catalonia, Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani plans to invest €2.2 billion for the conversion project.
The mosque, which is set to have a 300-metre high minaret, would sit just 750 metres from Gaudi’s famous church La Sagrada Familia.
As a bullfighting ring, La Plaza Monumental seated 25,000, but Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has plans to extend its capacity to host 40,000 worshippers.
This would mean that it could host roughly 80% of Barcelona’s Muslim population at a time. At 50,000, Barcelona has one of the largest Muslim populations of any Spanish city, equaling that of Marbella, Valencia, and Fuengirola.
The project still awaits both sale of the stadium and municipal approval, but Kanfach cites Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of the Barcelona football club, as well as Qatari armed forces’ recent purchase of a five-star hotel in Barcelona, as reasons the plan may be bolstered.
In spite of extant financial ties, the leader of the People’s Party of Catalonia, Alberto Fernandez Diaz, vocally opposes the plan, expressing wariness of engaging in such a project with “people and countries” which hold “values that collide with our own.”
In addition to nearly a century of bullfighting, La Plaza Monumental hosted major musical artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen.
Since the final bullfight in September 2011, aside from scattered circus performances and shows, La Plaza Monumental has been largely disused.