Barcelona’s bustling L’Eixample district is a great place to spend a day. Art and architecture lovers, foodies, history buffs, and seasoned shoppers will all find something that will make their hearts sing in this elegant, diverse area. Here are my suggestions for four ways to experience the best of L’Eixample.
Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013
The most famous tourist attraction in L’Eixample (and arguably in all of Barcelona) is La Sagrada Familia, designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi (whose style shapes much of the architecture found throughout the entire city of Barcelona). This captivating cathedral attracts close to three million visitors per year. The soaring towers and intricate stain glass windows are enough to leave you breathless. One of the most interesting aspects of La Sagrada Familia is that it’s been under construction for over 100 years; when it is finished, it will be even taller and more impressive. You can tour the cathedral yourself with an audio guide, or opt for a guided tour. If you have time, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. You can also purchase tickets to take a self-guided tour of Gaudí’s former home at Park Güell. The house is full of artifacts that belonged to the architect, as well as some of the furniture he designed.
Carrer de València 284
This stunning museum features the private collection of hotelier Jordi Clos, who devoted much of his life to collection Egyptian art and artifacts. The jewelry, funerary items, ceramics, and ancient household items are artfully displayed according to theme (Pharaoh, religion, funerary practices, mummification, home life, etc.). Amateur (or experienced) Egyptologists will also want to check out the basement library containing original manuscripts by Carter, the scholar who led the Tutankhamen excavations. Make sure to save some time take in the views and savor a cup of coffee on the rooftop terrace café.
Carrer del Comte d’Urgell
There are few things I love more than an authentic European market, and San Antoni definitely fits the bill. Browse stalls filled with fresh produce, seafood, artisanal cheeses, freshly baked bread, olives (oh – the olives!), meat, eggs and more. It’s the perfect place to pick up some provisions for an afternoon picnic
Passeig de Gràcia, 55-57, 08007
One of L’Eixample’s main shopping areas, Bulevard Rosa is a great place to browse the latest Spanish fashions. Dating back to the 1980s, Bulevard Rosa was the first shopping center to be built in Barcelona. Today, it’s home to over 100 stores dedicated to Spanish and Catalan fashion designers. The boutiques that comprise Bulevard Rosa frequently host events and trunk shows with local designers. If you read Spanish, you can check out upcoming events on Bulevard Rosa’s Facebook page. After you work up an appetite shopping, stroll down to Fishop (http://www.grupofishop.com/gb/), a “sushi fusion” restaurant that’s popular with the locals.
Pic via Flickr — Eric Fischer, Creative Commons