In 1859 a competition was announced; the city wall was to be torn down and Barcelona was to expand, but to do this a design plan was required. The winning plan was drawn by architect Ildefons Cerdà, and he was given the honour of creating the modern Barcelona, with construction beginning in the 1860s.
Today, the district of L’Eixample fills the gap between Ciutat Vella and the former small towns outside Barcelona. The area is organised based on a grid plan, with properties built in squares, often with inner courtyards in the middle. L’Eixample is best known for its art nouveau architecture, and many of Gaudí’s most magnificent masterpieces can be found here, including Sagrada Família, La Pedrera (Casa Milà) and Casa Batlló.
L’Eixample is a large area stretching from Plaça de Catalunya to Diagonal, and is split into ‘L’Eixample Esquerra’ (left) and ‘L’Eixample Dreta’ (right), divided by Passeig de Gràcia. Quadrat d’Or, the golden square in Catalan, is an area around Passeig de Gràcia and featuring the largest collection in the world (comprising 150 in total) of protected buildings designed in the art nouveau style.
There is also a plentiful array of some of the best bars and restaurants in the city, not to mention a café culture that has blossomed with streets full of terraces and cafés. Barcelona’s main boulevard, Passeig de Gràcia, and the streets leading off it are home to first-class shopping, with shops from all the big designer chains.
The area is characterised by large apartments, the majority of buildings being equipped with lifts, and a limited number of smaller apartments.
The district is served by metro stations, the Ferrocarrils (offering connections to the areas immediately outside the city), and bus lines.