L´Eixample (which translates as “the widening”) is a neighborhood that was born in the 19th century of the need to build outside of the walled city. It was designed by engineer Ildefons Cerda to resemble a checkerboard with straight, crisscrossing streets. Given its large size, L´Eixample is divided into two parts, called Eixample Dreta and Eixample Esquerra (Right and Left Eixample), divided by two streets, Avinguda Diagonal (known as “la Diagonal”) and Gran vía de les Corts Catalanes (known also as “Gran Vía”). The most important streets in Eixample are Passeig de Gracia, which is Barcelona’s answer to the Champs-Élysées, and Rambla de Catalunya (not to be confused with ¨La Rambla”, which is the main drag which begins at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the sea.)
L´Eixample is also known for its stunning Modernist architecture. On Passeig de Gracia you’ll find La Pedrera (also known as Casa Milá), as well as Casa Batllo, both designed by the legendary Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí.
Eixample Esquerra is home to what is known as the Gayeixample, Barcelona’s gay neighborhood. It’s not condensed like the gay areas of other cities, and indeed if you are there in the daytime you might not even notice you are in a gay neighborhood. At night, the Gayeixample heats up, as nightclubs, bars and restaurants, mainly gay, open.
The famous Sagrada Familia church is located in Eixample Dreta. This temple was also the work of Gaudí, and remains unfinished since the architect left in his will instructions that the construction only be completed with the use of donations and with no help from the government. The expected completion date: 2020. Inside the church, there is a museum where you can have a look at what the chruch willl look like when it’s finally finished.
Another modernist jewel located just up the street (Avenida Gaudí) from Sagrada Familia is the Hospital de Sant Pau, designed by Domenech i Montaner. The exterior is colorful, and the interior patio is lined with trees of all sorts of citrus fruits. Inside the hospital you’ll find the work of Spanish sculpture Pablo Gargallo.
Eixample is full of dining options offering some of the best in Catalan cuisine, as well as products. For the latter, visit Colmado Quilez on Rambla de Catalunya, a store offering just about anything you could ever want in food items from Catalunya and other parts of Spain. Their wine selection (and cheese) is great as well, so here you can grab a bottle of Priorat or Penedes and take it back to your hotel.
Another emblematic establishment in Eixample is Mantequería Ravell, a gourmet store founded in 1929 by one Ignasi Ravell. Inside you’ll find a dazzling assortment of Spanish food items as well as a restaurant led by Chef Jesús Benavente.
Els cinc sentits, located on Carrer Aribau, serves up nouveau Catalan fare with creativity and high quality ingredients. One of the more popular dishes is the Sabayon de perlas de tapioca, similar to the Italian zabaglione but made with tapioca pearls. The wine list is diverse and well-rounded, and the restaurant cozy and modern.
The Hotel Majestic’s restaurant, Drolma , is elegant and luxurious. Fish here is extra fresh and the quality of ingredients unparalleled. We recommend the lenguado envuelto en pasta.