The Eixample district
In the mid 19th century the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, Barcelona's population grew dramatically and its super populated center "the Old City quarter" or Ciutat Vella was confined withing the old Roman colonies and medieval walls. It certainly didn’t have the best sanitary living conditions, and people suffered greatly and it affected the life expectancy of residents due also to its cramming conditions into narrow spaces, obstructing light from entering residences, constricting proper air circulation and creating horse-cart traffic problems. So There was a demand for the demolition of the walls and a reconstruction of their entire city.
In 1855, the City Hall called out for a public competition requested from the Spanish Government Of Madrid, in order to solve the city’s need for growth. Ildefons Cerdà, a civil engineer, won the project for the Eixample (Catalan word for expansion), a huge undertaking that would construct and change positively a new face of Barcelona. in 1859 the controversial development plan was approved by the town council
Cerdà envisioned a city with a high regard for the people’s need for leisure, health and social relationships. Taking into consideration traffic (even before the introduction of cars and steamed engines), sunlight, air circulation, hospitals, parks, plazas and the wellbeing of pedestrians and artisanal street workers. Both the rich and the poor lived in modern buildings that formed square or octagonal blocks (known as Manzanas). Thus, he designed a grid-like pattern that would fill the area between the city walls and the surrounding towns.
Cerdà had the floor plans of American cities as a model. Cerdà saw the streets with wide and generously extended crossings, to highlight the crossings were blocks to the chamfered corners.
The blocks are all square and have a big yard, as you see them today.
The district is officially divided into six different neighborhoods, but generally cut into two main divisions by the Passeig de Gràcia: Esquerra de l'Eixample (left side of Eixample) and Dreta de l'Eixample (right side of Eixample). The right side starts in Plaça de Catalunya and links the old medieval Barcelona with the new city built around the Passeig de Gràcia.
The latter is the center of the Eixample known for its “Quadrat d’Or” or golden square describing the elegance of this area, which protects more than 150 historically preserved buildings and is the symbol of utmost elegance in the area.
Two of the most famous monuments of Barcelona's most famous citizen Antoní Gaudí can be done at Passeig de Gracia admire the Casa Millà and the Casa Balló. Farther east, the Sagrada Familia cathedral.
The Eixample houses many museums of diverse contents, amongst the most famous are Museu del Modernisme, Museu de la Musica, Fundacio Antoni Tapies (famous for its striking barbed wire exterior) and the Museo Egipci de Barcelona. Make sure to include at least the ones listed here in your next Barcelona city day tour.
The Eixample district is also known for a wide array of world-cuisine restaurants, as well as a selection of bars and nightlife venues and is one of the most comfortable areas to stay in Barcelona. Mainly because there’s always a restaurant, shop, supermarket or bar at walking distance from exsculsive ones to more affordable places.
An unofficial neighborhood of the district for the past 20 years, called the Gaixample, is a zone that attracts gay tourism with LGBTQIA+ bars, nightclubs, shops and hotels.
Passeig de Gràcia, Plaça Catalunya and Diagonal Avenue have the most exclusive stylish boutiques in Barcelona Valentino, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Armani, MaxMara to name fews and many other less expensive chains like Cos, Zara, Uniqlo, Mango, or smaller independent shops.
La Esquerra de l’Eixample ( Exiamle left side )
above Gran Via del les Cortes Catalanes