Planned by Ildefons Cerdà in the mid-1800s to resolve the problems of over-population and insufficient services in the city center, the construction of L’Eixample began when the medieval city walls were removed.
Cerdà’s ideas laid the foundation for modern day urbanization, though not all of his plans were carried out. He succeeded in creating wide, straight streets with chamfered (cut-off) corners, as well as regular hospitals, schools, and markets.
Luckily for Barcelona, and for those of us who love the city, the timing of the extension couldn’t have been better. Construction in the area coincided with the rise of the great Catalan Modernista architectural movement, most famously the works of Antoni Gaudí, creating an entire district characterized by the New York Times as “a living, breathing museum piece with an abundance of Art Nouveau [Modernista] architecture and details unfound anywhere in Europe.”
The heart of the Eixample is Passeig de Gràcia, the address of two important Gaudí constructions as well as many designer fashion stores. And while you stroll from boutique to boutique, don’t forget to look under your feet at the Gaudí-designed tiles. Even the sidewalks on this street are designer.
To the west of Passeig de Gràcia is known as L’Esquerra de L’Eixample (the left side of Eixample) and to the east is la Dreta de L’Eixample (the right side of Eixample). However, the Carrer de Balmes, west of the Passeig de Gràcia, is sometimes used as the dividing line as well.
Here are some of our favorite highlights in the area:
Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, with its colorful dragon-like roof and bone-like balconies, is simply enthralling.
La Sagrada Familia is unlike any church you’ve ever seen—seriously—La Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family) is probably Barcelona’s most popular landmark and Antoni Gaudí’s most well-known creation.
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is no longer operating as a hospital, but this lavish and colorful modernista treasure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Esquerra Eixample (the left-side of Eixample) is a great little barrio, a place to sample everyday life in Barcelona’s neighborhood bars, barbershops, and schools.
Details: Find an apartments and local advisor who knows Barcelona intimately and can accommodate you in this district or another zone that fits your style and taste. Private Access Journeys offers luxurious apartments in desirable neighborhoods in Barcelona and has a local Experience Coordinator who can share the city’s best small museums, fine restaurants, and lesser known gems.