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buying property in Barcelona

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Ficasso Real Estate Barcelona
Ronda Universitat, 29, 3-1A
08007 Barcelona, Spain

Tel. +34 933196176
E-mail: info@ficasso.com
Website: www.ficasso.com

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Eixample - Areas of Barcelona

Description Eixample area Barcelona

Includes Eixample left Eixample Right, and Sagrada Familia neighbourhoods


Eixample - Brief history and profile

property guide Eixample Barcelona


The word Eixample in Catalan) or Ensanche in Spanish means literally “the extension”. The Spanish verb “ensanchar” means to “broaden or widen.” So this district and area of Barcelona takes it’s name from its purpose – to extend the city of Barcelona.

This area of Barcelona was created as an extension of the old city of Barcelona to keep pace with the changes that the industrial revolution was starting to bring. By the mid 19th century a fast growing and increasingly wealthy middle class of Barcelona demanded new, modern and grand residences with more space and better living conditions.

The Eixample is one of the first attempts at urban planning in the world. In 1855 the Ajuntament (Council) of Barcelona authorized the demolition of the medieval city walls of the old Barcelona city and in 1859 they held a competition for projects for a big expansion of the city.

The engineer Ildefons Cerdà (1815-1876) designed the Extension Plan of Barcelona in 1859 as a grid with blocks and straight lines. It is perhaps paradoxical Gaudi and Cerda are the two Catalans who have symbolized modern day Barcelona more than any others. Gaudi hated straight lines and Cerda loved them.

Cerda’s love of straight lines shows in his design of a 1300 hectar grid system of blocks of buildings also called 'manzanas'  measuring 113 x 113 m and covering 14% of the total municipal area at that time

The Ajuntament (council) of Barcelona didn’t much like the Cerda plan because it more of less left the old city centre the way it was. So they initially picked a plan by Antoni Rovira i Trias. The winning plans had long straight avenues leading out from Plaça Catalunya in a radial fan-like shape. For reasons still unknown orders came from Madrid, after the winner had been picked, that the plan that would be used would be that of lldefons Cerdà.

Before the Eixample was devised the modern areas of Sants, Sarrià, Gràcia and Sant Andreu were still independent villages and not part of Barcelona. The street Passeig de Gracia got it name because this was the road from the still walled city of Barcelona to the town of Gracia. 

To ensure maximum quality of life and avoid the overcrowding and congestion of the crampled living conditions of the old city of Barcelona, Cerdas original plan had strict building controls to ensure sunshine, light and gardens in each block. Only in a very few blocks in the modern day Eixample are in accordance with his original plans, but so gardens still exists and many blocks still have large courtyard patios in the middle which provide natural light.

A feature of Cerdà's plan that thankfully has survived are the 45º diagonally cut corners
of each block  called “chaflanes”. This idea was not only to bring light and space between the blocks, but also to give the steam trams room to make their long turns.

The Eixample consists of a “left and right” area called Eixample Esquerre, which is the area left of the Passeig de Gracia and Eixample Dret, the right side of Passeig de Gràcia. The right side is generally considered to be posher!

The wonderful avenue of Passeig de Gràcia is the main avenue and where the most expensive and luxurious residential and commercial properties can be found. This is where La Pedrera (Casa Mila), Casa Battlo can be found.

In the days before the lift was invented the lower level flats were the most prestigious and the largest and most luxurious flats were found on what is still called the Principal floor, which is the first above the ground floor. Many of this high ceiled luxury flats for the building owners featured viewing galleries with high glass windows on the principal floor An example of this can be seen at Casa Battlo by Gaudi.  The top floors of buildings were hardest to get to without lifts and were used to servants quarters.

The Eixample is also the cradle of Catalan modernism. This is where great Catalan architects competed to build fabulous Modernist structures like the Sagrada Famila, the Sant Pau hospital, Casa Amatller, Casa Mila and La Pedrera

The Passeig de Gràcia is also home to the block called “Mançana de la Discòrdia” which means “The block of disagreement.” This is due to three houses in a single block that were designed by prominent Modernist architects but in very different styles. The three famous Modernist houses are Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch , Casa Morera by Domènech i Montaner and Casa Batlló by Gaudí.

The popular Rambla de Catalunya which runs parallel to Passeig de Gracia was built over a former river called “la Riera d'en Malla” which was covered over. It used to run all the way to the sea where the La Rambla also is located in the Cuitat Vella


Eixample - Main tourist attractions and sights

  La Sagrada Familia. – unfinished Catedral by Antón Gaudi
Hospital de Sant Pau by Lluís Domènech i Montaner
Casa Mila – La Pedrera - Building by Antón Gaudi
Casa Battlo – Building by Antón Gaudi
Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch
Casa Morera by Domènech i Montaner
The Fundacio Antoni Tapies - modern art gallery


Eixample - Personal opinions from friends who live here


Positive: The Eixample is more elegant than the old parts of Barcelona Clean and organized is what brought me here Great shopping, excellent public transport few tourists, very central for everything in Barcelona spacious flats Good solid buildings quality workmanship good shopping and dining good nightlife civilized and very safe! Great roof terraces Many hotels with great food and bars.

Negative: Heavy traffic on some roads, which can be noisy Balconies are noisy during week, but great for weekends Can be monotonous with same blocks everywhere Could be more green areas.


Eixample - Real estate perspective of buying flats here