Eixample, which translates as “extension”, in recognition of its position as a new part of the city; is a large area north of Plaça Catalunya to the left and right of Passeig de Gràcia.
The area is in fact an extension of the city, which benefits the astute urban planning by the Catalan engineer Cerdes in the 50s. Cerdes had an imprinted preference for straight lines and the entire area is designed like a grid field, where each block has a courtyard. This means that it is difficult to get lost in Eixample, and also that it is easy to find a place.
In contrast to the narrow Barri Gòtic is the district L’Eixample (pronounced: laschampla). Around 1850, with the beginning of industrialization, Barcelona began to expand beyond the city walls to create living and working space for the rapidly growing population. During this time, the striking checkerboard pattern of L’Eixample (extension) was designed by the city planner Ildefons Cerdà. Cerdà had taken the floor plans of the American cities as a model.
The roads have been widened and the intersections have been generously extended (the Passeig de Gràcia is six lanes!), for better clarity of the intersections, the blocks were beveled at the corners.
The blocks of houses are all square and have a large courtyard, but today it is mostly built up. Not much has remained of Cerdà’s original idea of providing a lot of greenery for the inhabitants.
In 1859, the controversial development plan was approved by the city administration.
The middle part of L’Eixample is often also called “Quadrat d’Or”, golden square, which takes into account the elegance of this quarter. The north-facing main street Passeig de Gràcia connects the medieval city centre with the artistic district of Gràcia and is lined with chic boutiques and upscale restaurants. Two of the most famous buildings of the probably most famous citizen of Barcelona Antoní Gaudí can be admired on the Passeig de Gràcia, the Casa Millà and the Casa Balló. Further east, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. In total, about 150 modernist buildings have been placed under monument protection in the Quadrat d’Or.
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