Eixample is one of the more modern districts of Barcelona. Built between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it contains some of the architect Antoni Gaudi's most famous works, such as La Pedrera. Eixample is located between the Ciutat Vella, or the Old Town of Barcelona, and the outlying, more modern towns around the city. In contrast to the Old Town, Eixample is laid out in a modern grid of streets, with distinctive octagonal blocks that allow greater visibility and openness throughout the area.
One of the most popular tourist attractions that Eixample shares with Ciutat Vella is the Placa Catalunya. This large plaza is considered the center of the city, and is the place where several large main streets meet, including La Rambla and Passeig de Gracia, Eixample's main thoroughfare. Placa Catalunya is famous for the fountains—some historic, some scenic—at various places around the square, as well as for the large flocks of pigeons that congregate there. The Placa Catalunya also has some interesting sculptures by modernist artists such as Josep Llimona and an impressive modernist monument to Francesc Macia, a former president of Catalonia. Some of the buildings around the Plaza are very interesting, as several are turreted, opulent structures evoking bygone times. You may also want to check out some of the cafés and restaurants here; one of them, Café Zurich, was a popular haunt of artists and writers.
Arguably the most famous sights of the Eixample district are the modernist architectural wonders by Antoni Gaudi. One of the most famous of these buildings is La Pedrera, built in 1912, officially called the Casa Mila. Upon looking at La Pedrera, it seems that there is not one straight line in the entire architecture of the building. Gaudi designed it in a biomorphic style, similar to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, using irregular organic shapes. The interior of La Pedrera contains an irregularly shaped elliptical atrium that is open to the sky with several floors of balconies lining the sides of the atrium. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building has been restored to its original glory.
Another famous Gaudi work in Eixample is Casa Batllo, nicknamed the House of Bones. This building is a wonderland of organic shapes, intricate stone sculpture, and irregular curving lines. Some of the shapes are a bit reminiscent of Salvador Dali's paintings, and this will certainly be one of the most memorable buildings you see anywhere in the world.
The Sagrada Familia is a must-see, and it is arguably the top architectural attraction of Barcelona. Considered by most to be Gaudi's master work, the Sagrada Familia is an unfinished Roman Catholic church, most distinctive for its spindly spire towers. The construction of the church is incredibly complex, from the tree-like pillars that support the roof, to the design of each spire, to the carvings on the façade. Gaudi died in 1926, leaving the church unfinished, but construction has continued on the project during the past century, and the Sagrada Familia is slated to be finished in 2026.
If you are planning to spend the night in the area, most of the hotels in Eixample are in the mid to high price range. If you can afford to splurge, try the Hotel Omm situated on fashionable Passeig de Gracia, in close proximity to many of Eixample's top attractions. There are a few hostels available as well for those on a smaller budget; one of the best located is the Hostal Residencia Australia right in the center of the downtown district.