Planning on a trip to Barcelona? Most excellent – it’s one of my favourite Spanish towns, as you get a great balance between food, urban architecture, and even some opportunity for beach time. And despite being a big city, there are a lot of quieter places in Barcelona good for relaxing, strolling around, and just enjoying the Spanish vibe. The easy-to-misspell neighbourhood of Eixample is one of the best places to stay, not only because of that great atmosphere I just mentioned, but also it puts you within walking distance of many of the city’s best sights. Here’s a tour around what to see and do while you’re there.
Eixample is home to Barcelona’s most famous treasure, the Sagrada Familia. The church’s construction was started in 1882, and is yet still to be completed! Today you’ll notice works are ongoing; the city is attempting to finish the building according to Gaudi’s apparently hard-to-decipher plans. Queues at the Sagrada Familia can be crushing, so I advise you to buy tickets in advance online, or you can use one of the machines across the street to pick up a ticket.
But the church isn’t the only example of Gaudi architecture in Eixample – my personal favourite is the photo above, of Casa Batlo. Even from the exterior you can note the uniqueness – the building has no straight lines or right angles. Well worth popping in for a tour.
La Pedrera is another famous Gaudi building in the area – it’s often referred to as Casa Mila. It’s another one of those no-right-angle buildings (eccentricity at its best), and this tour is great because you get to go up on the roof, which offers you great views of Sagrada Familia and some of Eixample’s other buildings.
Architecture is a huge theme for visitors wandering around Eixample.
The two buildings right next to Casa Balto are also very well known architectural masterpieces. Casa Lleo-Morera is a “modernism” architecture; the name refers to the two thing you will see in the intricate decor of the facade – mulberry trees and lions. Weird – yup!
Next door is the Casa Amatller (see top picture), another modernism building – it has a bold, triangular shaped roof that wouldn’t look out of place in a square in Belgium. Quite the strange choice, juxtaposed against its neighbours.
I’m not suggesting that you break a leg on your Barcelona holiday, but I do suggest while in Eixample you go to the hospital – that’s because it’s an artistic marvel!
It is one of few hospitals that are actually UNESCO World Heritage sites, and this was a working hospital until just two years ago when it was closed to be turned into a museum. The building is huge and actually a merger of six medieval hospitals.
Guided tours are available in English every day but Saturday at 10am, 11am, 12 noon, and 1pm. If you have a group you can coordinate a visit separately if you prefer. Given the ongoing construction works, I would suggest double-checking the tour times when you arrive to avoid disappointment.
As with most trips to Spain, you really should plan on coming hungry, because the food is delicious. A few recommendations:
Have you spent time in Eixample? What was your favourite?
Posted : Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 12:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.