July 6th, 2011
On my recent trip to Barcelona, I got up early one day (well, OK, 8am-which IS early when you’ve just flown intercontinental from the West Coast!) to take a nice, leisurely walk around our hotel neighborhood.
We were staying in my favorite area, the Eixample district (roughly promounced EYE-SHAM-PLA)
This well-planned area of Barcelona was constructed in the late 19th-early 20th centuries after they tore down the Roman wall surrounding the old Gothic Quarter of the city to expand westward and connect it to the outlying small towns of Gracia, Sants, and others.
Designed in a strict grid pattern by Ildefons Cerda, the blocks are actually octagonal in shape. The chamfered corners were designed to bring in more sunlight and ventilation. You REALLY notice these as you are walking, because each time you reach a “corner” you have to walk a bit more to get to the place you can actually cross the street.
The Eixample district includes some of the finest examples of Modernista architecture in Barcelona, including the major works of Antoni Gaudi, such as Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, and Casa Batlló (shown above).
But beyond that, it’s one of the most pleasant city neighborhoods you will find. This is high density living at its finest. I particularly love the rows and stacks of divinely decorative balconies….
…and the special touches and attention to detail on the facades….
…including my favorite design detail, sgraffito. You will see amazing examples of this decorative plaster technique on almost every block. This one above is one of my favorites, but I have more sgraffito to share with you when we continue our walk-in the next post!