Eixample neighbourhood

History of Barcelona: the construction of the Eixample neighbourhood

Eixample neighbourhood is the name given to the second district of the city of Barcelona, which occupies the central part of the city, in a large area of 7.46 square kilometres that was designed by Ildefonso Cerdá.

It is the most populated district of Barcelona and of  Spain with more than 250.000 inhabitants.

In the Eixample neighbourhood we find some of the most famous streets and squares in Barcelona, such as Passeig de Gracia, Rambla de Catalunya, Plaça de Catalunya, Diagonal Avenue, Aragon street, Gran Via, Balmes Street, Ronda de Sant Antoni, Passeig de Sant Joan, Plaça de la Sagrada Familia, Plaza Gaudi, and so on.

Therefore, this is an exceptional area where you can look for the best apartment to rent in Barcelona.

But, how did Eixample neighbourhood look like a few years ago? How much has it changed?

In this post we talk about the construction of this emblematic area of Barcelona. After reading it, do not hesitate to rent a design apartment in Sagrada Familia and walk around the streets of this neighbourhood to discover for yourself all the things we talk about.

At first, there was nothing

When Barcelona was enclosed within its walls, the territory where the Eixample neighbourhood rises today was a space without buildings. For reasons of military strategy, a safety area was established around the walls. In this space, any construction was prohibited.

This way, the city of Barcelona was growing inside its walls until it could not stand anymore. The locals crowded into increasingly narrow and poorly ventilated streets that provided a very bad life. This is why more and more voices were calling for the demolition of the walls.

Demolishing the walls

Eventually, it happened: the social conflict that the city was experiencing, and a new epidemic of cholera, led to an auspicious government to approve the demolition of the walls in 1854.

Finally, Barcelona won the battle to its growth outside the old limits.

Ildefons Cerdà: the designer

The new Barcelona that was built outside the old walls was designed by the engineer Ildefons Cerdà.

Ildefonso Cerdà Suñer was born in Centelles (Barcelona). He really was a versatile man: engineer, urbanist, jurist, economist and Spanish politician. His biggest work was the designing of Eixample with the so called Cerdà Plan.

Cerdà Plan

This was the most important urban transformation in Barcelona.

The main idea of Ildefons Cerdà was to make urban social justice. In other words, he wanted to design a humanitarian urbanism that would give comfort and equality to its citizens without differentiating whether they were rich or poor.

In fact, he carried out a study on the living conditions of the people of Barcelona who lived in Ciutat Vella district. This way, he found that the social and urban problems were density, mobility and mortality. A narrow street meant more deaths in the event of an epidemic. To solve it, he designed a more hygienic city, healthier and well-connected.

Great results

In 1859, the construction of Eixample neighbourhood began. Queen Elizabeth II gave the “kick-off” by placing the first stone of the Eixample in what we now know as Plaça de Catalunya.

In 1897, the project was a reality: Cerdà plan was finally done!

Nowadays, Eixample neighbourhood is an example of excellent design and precise urbanism: square shaped blocks, uniformity, wide streets (20, 30 and 60 metres) seeking to improve hygienic conditions and chamfers that facilitate visibility and the circulation of vehicles… what a modern and thorough design!

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History of Barcelona: the construction of the Eixample neighbourhood
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