The Eixample, designed by architect Idelfons Cerdà, is made up of an immense mosaic of orderly blocks that make up the centre of the city, in the area outside the city walls. It is divided into left and right hand sides at Carrer Balmes, but the slanting route traced by the Diagonal avenue breaks up the ordered grid framework crossing the whole city from east to west and ending at the sea. In the left hand side of the Eixample, we find the historical building of the University of Barcelona, and the Gran Via is like a tunnel through time that passes through the modernist style Casa Golferichs and reaches the Plaça de les Arenes shopping centre. The right part of the Eixample runs to Passeig Sant Joan and is where the Cerdà plan began. since the Barcelona bourgeoisie abandoned the walled city and began to build small houses with gardens in this area, the only surviving examples of which are to be found in Passatge Permanyer. The area’s neuralgic centres are undoubtedly Plaça Catañunya and Passeig de Gràcia, which are the main focus of the city’s economic activity, the later containing luxury multinational jewelers and fashion stores. Running alongside, another elegant avenue, Rambla Catalunya, is ideal for visitors to have a drink at one of its numerous terrace bars. On the upper side we find the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood, whose name comes from the famous church, Gaudi’s most iconic work.
Traditionally a working class and residential neighbourhood, Poble-Sec has recently become a popular quarter with young people. Although most people are not aware of the fact, this is the authentic Eixample, the first widening of the old city, set between the narrow streets of the Raval and the straight lines of the Eixample. With Avinguda Paral.lel on one side, with its many theatres such as the Apolo or Victoria, and the parkland of Montjuïc on the other, providing various viewpoints on its slopes, Poble-Sec occupies a narrow stretch of land between. In keeping with the authenticity of the neighbourhood is Quimet & Quimet, a bodega where you can try somo aperitif and tapas, as is the retro-style La Federica. I should also mention the recently restored El Molino and Plaça del Sortidor, which is always bubbling with activity and full of the warm village-like life that characterizes the area. Closest metro station: Poble-Sec and Paral.lel (L2 and L3).
The Born neighbourhood includes the area that was once known as La Ribera. It’s something like Barcelona’s own Soho, a place where you can find art, tapas and designer boutiques in a maze of paved medieval streets. Here you will find countless restaurants and cocktails bar, from the classical Xampanyet to the exclusive Coppelia, the leisure options are practically limitless. The quarter is delimited by Vía Laietana, which was built to connect the Eixample to the sea, and Parc de la Ciutadella, the city’s most important park, which connect to the Zoo. Its narrow streets afford a glimpse of gigantic monumentality of Santa Maria del Mar church, better known thanks to the novel by Falcones, the decrepit townhouses of Carrer Montcada, the Picasso Museum and Born and Santa Caterina markets. Closest underground station: Jaume I (L4).