Eixample of Barcelona, history and curiosities of the district

Do you know when the construction of the Eixample began? Who designed it? In this post you will find the answer to these questions and some curiosities about this well-known district of Barcelona.

The Eixample has always been known for its square and modern design by Ildefons Cerdà. This urban planner managed to turn an open field into the popular urban grid we know today as Eixample. Cerdà’s uniform design sought to eliminate the differences between the areas inhabited by the wealthiest and the most disadvantaged. He could not achieve this, as the real estate market is governed by its own laws.

The start

We can consider that the Eixample of Barcelona began to be built in 1854, with the governmental authorization of the demolition of the walls of the city. These walls, which had surrounded Barcelona for many years, extended along the Avinguda del Paral·lel, the Passeig de Lluís Companys and along the Ronda de Sant Pau, de Sant Antoni, Universitat and San Pere. Its demolition was neither simple nor immediate, although there was a great deal of citizen collaboration.  The citizens of Barcelona had to wait almost ten years to see the walls demolished, although four years after the process had begun, the Eixample began to be developed.

Granvia de les Corts Catalanes, 1928.

The irruption of Catalan Modernism

Many of Cerdà’s forecasts were modified as the construction of the Eixample progressed, especially from 1880, when the modernist architects came into play and built the iconic and distinctive modernist houses.

Great architects soon erected their buildings in the new and promising district. Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and Casa de les Punxes are just some of those that can be visited today. The best known are those belonging to the illustrious architect of the Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudí. Even so, there are great jewels by other architects such as Lluís i Domènech or Puig i Cadafalch in the Eixample such as Casa Amatller Casa Lleó i Morera or Casa de les Punxes. The latter, the work of Puig i Cadafalch, stands monumental and majestically in the middle of Avinguda Diagonal, although most of these buildings are concentrated in Passeig de Gràcia, one of the main streets of the Eixample and the main residential centre of the high bourgeoisie at the end of the 19th century.

Source: Paris, Jordi (Cord.) Ruta del Modernisme de Barcelona. Barcelona: IMPUiQV, 2005. Printed.

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