July 6th, 2011

Looking Up in Barcelona

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!

9 Responses to “Looking Up in Barcelona”

  1. Theresa Cheek Says:

    You were in such a architecturally rich environment! Your pictures are wonderful examples of Barcelona.

  2. Karen Jorgenson Says:

    really great photos. I’ve never seen anything like that building with the mosaics and all the different balconies. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lynne Rutter Says:

    all fine Eixamples … (snicker)
    especially like the sgraffito ornament, so graphic… might make fabulous fabric patterns

  4. Luis Says:

    welcome back Melanie, so, did you treat your guests to a fish pedicure after all? I so miss Barcelona. It is such a dynamic city.
    What is this about a September trip?

  5. Cat Says:

    Fabulous pictures! I did not know that about the corners, brilliant. I gotta go!

  6. Melanie Says:

    Thanks all! Luis, everyone was so UP for the fish pedicure, but we simply ran out of time (too much shopping!). There’s always next September…..! Going to repeat the trip!!

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