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The Eixample

A Good Walk in the Eixample

Starting in the Plaça de Catalunya, walk up Passeig de Gràcia until you reach the corner of Consell de Cent. Take a deep breath: You are about to enter something resembling the Bermuda Triangle of of Barcelona's Moderniste frenzy, the Manzana de la Discòrdia. This is the "city block (or apple) of discord," where the three great figures of Barcelona's late-19th-century Moderniste movement—Domènech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch, and Gaudí—went head to head, hand to hand, and toe to toe with three very different buildings: Casa Lleó Morera, Casa Amatller, and Casa Batlló, the latter one of Gaudí's most fanciful creations. The Casa Montaner i Simó–Fundació Tàpies, with its wire sculpture Núvol i cadira (Cloud and Chair) by Antoni Tàpies himself, is just west, around the corner on Carrer Aragó.

Swing by Casa Domènech i Estapà on Carrer de Valencia on your way up to Gaudí's greatest (although most criticized) private commission, Casa Milà, known as La Pedrera (the Stone Quarry), three blocks farther up Passeig de Gràcia. After seeing the roof (with its signature veiled or helmeted chimneys), the Gaudí museum, and the typical early-20th-century apartment here, pop into Vinçon for a look through one of Barcelona's top design stores, with views into the back of Casa Milà. Just around the corner at Avinguda Diagonal 373 is Puig i Cadafalch's intricately sculpted Casa Àsia–Palau Baró de Quadras, home of the Casa Àsia study, business, and cultural center; it's two minutes from the architect's Nordic castle fantasy, the Casa de les Punxes, at Nos. 416–420. From here it's a 10-minute hike to Passeig de Sant Joan and yet another Puig i Cadafalch masterpiece, Casa Macaia.

By this time you're three blocks from Gaudí's Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (plan for a half-day visit). After a tour of Gaudí's unfinished "stone Bible," stroll over to Domènech i Montaner's Hospital de Sant Pau —another Moderniste monument. Other Eixample spots to visit, though they're widely scattered and not easily scheduled into a single walking tour, can be seen if you head back south and to the west and include Gaudí's Casa Calvet, Passatge Permanyer, the Universitat Central, the chaletlike Casa Golferichs by Rubió i Bellver, and the Casa de la Papallona (the House of the Butterfly), with one of the most spectacular Art Nouveau facades in town.

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