The life of the Barcelona bourgeoisie in the Eixample

The Eixample adventure 

In order to understand how the bourgeoisie of Barcelona lived, we have to look at the second half of the 19th century. Some Barcelona habitants were offered the opportunity to break away from the tradition of the family home in Ciutat Vella and start a new life in the modern Eixample district. The neighborhood was so new that it still did not have electricity, running water or sewers when some adventurers began their move. These pioneers in inhabiting the Eixample were known as “protomartyrs”. 

At the beginning of the 20th century the situation did not improve much for these bourgeois adventurers, who still lived without roads with their magnificent shoes full of dust. When it rained, the muddy area that dominated the city was such that it received the bad name of “Can Fanga”, alluding to the mud that flooded the streets, called “fang” in Catalan. Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk around in those elegant suits and dresses through all that dirt?

barcelona bourgeoisie walking down the avinguda diagonal
Francesc Blasi i Vallespinosa. Arxiu Fotogràfic Centre Excursionista de Catalunya

New homes, new ways to live 

The new neighborhood allowed them to rethink the ways of living so far. The houses that followed the Cerdà model were elongated to favor sound isolation, giving each end to a facade with balconies. 


In these elongated apartments and houses the decoration was the protagonist, concretely the modernist decoration that impregnated the interiors of the rooms from the ceiling to the floor, passing through walls, furniture and all the elements that integrated them. 

It was a great time for furniture makers, decorators and even architects who were encouraged to design interior decorations for their own projects. 


Also, very interesting were those modernist architectural projects that did not comply with the Cerdà model or that complied with it in an exceptional way, as is the case of the Casa de les Punxes. The irregular plot in which this building is located is much smaller than others in the Eixample. This meant that the architect did not have to design a large central garden, a typical urban resource in the area. But rather had enough small interior patios to respect the guidelines of the Cerdà plan.

New trendy streets

The well known Plaza Cataluña became one of the great meeting points at the beginning of the 20th century, joining the old and new sides of the city of Barcelona. 

The Paseo de Gracia also became a famous protagonist of the early century. Not only for the great modernist works that we can find in it, but for being the first street in Barcelona to be paved. This made it the ideal street to walk with horse-drawn carriages, without the clatter of tiles.

The great Diagonal Avenue was also one of the most fashionable streets. Directly connected to Paseo de Gracia and with a large extension of land it houses great modernist works such as the Palau Baó de Quadras, the Casa de les Punxes and others. You can discover a small selection of our favorites in this article about 5 modernist buildings on Avinguda Diagonal

The Eixample of Barcelona and its construction was one of the events with more impact on the bourgeoisie of the city. If you want to know more about it, do not miss our article on the Eixample of Barcelona, history and curiosities.

Sources: Permanyer, Ll. (2015) La Barcelona d’ahir: L’esplendor de la burguesia. Barcelona: Angle Editorial.