L'Eixample was the result of Barcelona's need to spread beyond its city walls, due to the expansion it experienced in the 19th century, thus leading to the construction of new buildings and big houses for the city's richest families.
This brought about the rise of a new architectural style, the so-called "Modernism", led by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Joan Puig i Cadafalch. The Catalan genius Antoni Gaudí is from the same period, although his style is not exactly modernist.
For architecture lovers, l'Eixample is like a big open air museum, where every building has its historical, artistic or architectural importance. The most interesting and recommended places to visit are:Pg. de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya form the two main boulevards in l'Eixample, and we recommend you stroll along them to appreciate their beauty and majesty.
On Pg. de Gràcia you will find the most important modernist buildings, starting with the Illa de la discordia which brings together examples of the three architects, the Casa Lleó i Morera by Lluís Domenech i Montaner at no. 35, the Casa Amatller by Joan Puig i Cadafalch at no. 41 and the Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí at no. 43.
Before reaching Diagonal on the right-hand side is the Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera, also by Gaudí. Once on Diagonal you will see the Palau Quadras, where the Museu de la Música is located, and the most famous and impressive monument by Joan Puig i Cadafalch, the Casa de les punxes.
From there, and coming back down calle Roger de Llúria, you will pass the Casa Thomas and the Palau Montaner, both by Lluís Domenech i Montaner. Finally, on reaching Calle Casp, there is the Casa Calvet, another building by Gaudí.
Other architectural monuments of the area are the University of Barcelona and the Fundació Tàpies. Remember that in this area of the Eixample there are many more modernist details that you will discover little by little on shops, benches, street lamps, etc. See if you can find them!
Although a little further from the centre of the Eixample, the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly the most famous work of Gaudí and the one that identifies Barcelona all over the world. The architect started to work on this cathedral in 1883, and worked on it on a full-time basis from 1911 to 1926, when he died, run over by a tram, leaving the work uncompleted. Inside the cathedral area you will find a small museum with a completed model, based on the original drawings, and explanations on its history.
Not very far from the Sagrada Familia is the Hospital de Sant Pau , by Lluís Doménech i Montaner, another brilliant example of modernism, which you can get to along Av. de Gaudí, with its modernist street lamps by Pere Falqués.