The Eixample is one of the most well-known districts of Barcelona. The meaning of the name is ‘expansion’ in Catalan and it comes from the fact that the area was constructed in the 19th century when Barcelona began to grow and extend significantly.
The Eixample neighborhood is unique and famous due to the many modernist style buildings found here, but also because it is the one of the most important shopping areas of Barcelona. Passeig de Gràcia, which is the main shopping and business street of the district, is home to many world-famous fashion brand stores such as Zara, H&M or Gucci. In addition, the other streets of the quarter have numerous smaller shops. While strolling the streets of the Eixample, tourists can visit many restaurants and coffee shops and enjoy a very active nightlife.
History of the Eixample
Until the 19th century Barcelona comprised only of the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, El Born and El Raval. Around that time, the industry in the city started to develop massively and the new upper-middle-class (namely industrialists and traders) became richer and wanted more space to build newer and larger houses. Under these circumstances, the Eixample was established as an ‘expansion’ of the old city. As the quarter was eventually inhabited mainly by Barcelona’s upper-middle-class and the higher-class, they have opted to build mostly large and beautiful Modernista buildings (for additional information – History of Barcelona).
The Design of the Eixample
The Eixample has been a very well designed quarter right from the start. The quarter was designed by the visionary urban planner Ildefons Cerda who wanted to lay out a modern living area. The streets are straight, long and wide and they run from north to south and from east to west, forming a regular grid pattern. In addition to that, the district is cut across diagonally by Avinguda Diagonal. This is a wide and long avenue that has an esthetic and practical role as it helps with ventilating by the air flow from the sea shore.
Another structural characteristic that makes the Eixample unique are the octagonal pavement blocks, which in most cases include 4-5 adjacent buildings. The streets have chamfered corners where they intersect. This urban design improves the visibility in traffic and provides more sunlight and air ventilation to the area.
Buildings in the Eixample
Since the Eixample was inhabited mainly by the upper-middle-class of Barclonae, who tended to boast with their wealth, the district has a lot of large and colourful Modernista buildings. The design of these buildings is very unique and some of them are quite eccentric. Such kind of designs are very specific to Barcelona.
The most impressive buildings are situated on Passeig de Gràcia and around it in the area called Quadrat d’or (The Golden Square). Quadrat d’or is the part of the Eixample between Carrer Aribau and the Passeig de Sant Joan, that can be considered an open architectural museum. Some of the buildings designed by the famous modernist architect Antoni Gaudí can be admired here, out of which Casa Batlló and Casa Milà are some of the most well-known. However, besides the works of Gaudí, there are also buildings designed by other modernist architects, such as for example the Casa Terrades which was planned by Josep Puig (for additional information – Architecture in Barcelona).
Another beautiful place worth mentioning is Placa del Cinc d’Oros (Square of the Five Golden Cards), which is located at the intersection of Passeig de Gràcia and Avinguda Diagonal. The square’s name comes most probably from the five roundabouts situated in it.
Shopping and Nightlife in the Eixample
Eixample is one of the main shopping centres of Barcelona. Passeig de Gràcia is considered the Champs Elysees of Barcelona due to many world-famous fashion boutiques that resides here. A lot of the tourists visit this street in order to do a shopping tour, even though most of the shops are quite expansive.
Main Landmarks in the Eixample
Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya is Barcelona’s main square. It is a very famous tourist attraction with beautiful fountains and statues. In addition to to its cultural significance, the square is also an important centre for the city’s public transportation.
Read more about Plaça de Catalunya
|Plaça de Catalunya – a beautiful, huge square with a very long history.
The place also has a national significance for Catalan people.
Casa Batlló, also known as the House of Bones (Casa dels ossos), is one of the most famous modernist buildings of the well-known architect, Antoni Gaudí.
Read more about Casa Batlló
Casa Milà, or the Stone Quarry (La Pedrera), is another modernist building designed by Gaudí. It was the last residential building that was planned by him.
Read more about Casa Milà
|Casa Milà is one of the most famous tourist attractions of Barcelona.
It is situated in Eixample, and it was designed by Antoni Gaudí in modernist style.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family Basilica) is an imposing and world-famous church designed by Gaudí. He devoted many years of his life to this impressive project that was less than half built at the time of his death.
Read more about Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Passeig de Gràcia
Passeig de Gràcia is the main street of the Eixample district. It has many architectural attractions and shopping areas with world-famous fashion boutiques such as Zara, H&M, Gucci and many more.
Read more about Passeig de Gràcia
Palau Robert is a beautiful modernist building with a wonderful garden. It was originally the house of a Spanish nobleman, but today it is the building of the Catalan Tourist Office.
Quadrat d’Or (The Golden Square)
Quadrat d’Or is an area of the Eixample that stretches around Passeig de Gràcia and contains most of the beautiful and impressive modernist buildings for which Barcelona is famous for. Considered as an open architectural museum, many of the buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí, such as Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, can be admired here.
Placa del Cinc d’Oros (Square of the Five Golden Cards)
At the intersection of Passeig de Gràcia and Avinguda Diagonal lays Placa del Cinc d’Oros (square of five golden cards). It’s name derives from the five roundabouts situated on it.
The Art Collection of Joseph Sunol
The art collection of Joseph Sunol is a little exposition of contemporary art that used to belong to the art collector Joseph Sunol.
Casa Terrades is an imposing modernist building, planned by another famous modernist architect, Josep Puig.
Palau del Baron de Quadras
Palau del Baron de Quadras is another beautiful and famous building designed by Josep Puig.