The Eixample is the name given to the second district of downtown Barcelona, an urbanized area located in the center of the city that encompasses nearly 7.5 square kilometers. Designed by Ildefonso Cerdá in the middle to late 19th century, it is the most densely populated residential district in the city and also in Spain. The Eixample features some of the most famous streets and plazas in Barcelona, such as Paseo de Gracia, Rambla de Catalunya, Plaza Catalunya and Avenida Diagonal, a variety of famous sites such as the The Sagrada Familia Basilica, Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Casa Batlló, Casa de les Punxes and a multitude of cinemas, theaters, restaurants, hotels and other leisure hotspots.
Thanks to Cerdá´s concept of a utopian metropolis, today’s Eixample or “Ensanche”, is a dynamic version of his urban ideals and continues to thrive well into the 21st century as the heart of the city, more than 150 years later.
The last important period of growth in the Eixample occurred in 1986 as Barcelona was selected to host the 1992 Summer Olympic Games which allowed for the development of the Olympic Village and its sea-front location, while maintaining the integrity of Cerda’s design. It also presented the city, after more than a century and a half, with the opportunity to connect the multi-faceted Avenida Diagonal with the sea and strategically relocate a large part of the city’s industrial facilities outside of the downtown area.
The right side of the Eixample (from Balmes street going to the right) represents the wealthiest part of the district and extends until Paseo Sant Joan, where property values decrease accordingly. The most exclusive streets in the area are Paseo de Gracia (one of the most expensive boulevards in Europe), Avenida Diagonal (arguably the city’s most versatile avenue) and Rambla de Cataluña, while surrounding Paseo de Gracia are pricey streets where the city’s elite have always lived due to the location and ease of access by all forms of public transportation.
<<1859-2009 El ”Ensanche” de Cerdá>>. Ingeniería y territorio (Barcelona: Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos) 4 (88): pp.98.2009. ISSN 1695-9467.