5. Barcelona: Art Nouveau & Gaudí Tour
In English, Eixample means "city expansion." The neighborhood, whose leveled corner façades you've likely strolled past, was established in 1854 when the city walls were torn down and the empty expanse between the overfilled old city and the little town of Gracia could finally be built upon. Eixample proper, today known also as the Golden Square, is the area where the industrialists, aristocrats, and Catalans (the so-called Indianos) who had come into money in South America constructed city palaces with the star architects of their time. And what an opportunity: for 200 years the upper echelons had been cooped up with the poorest classes in the old city. Autonomy and codetermination were refused by the central government in Madrid, and the people suffered under these policies. The local officials could do little, unless they had money in the bank, and they weren't stingy when it came to architecture. They splurged on beautiful buildings and used these to put their wealth on display, employing illustrious architects like Domènech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch, and of course Gaudí, to construct these masterpieces. It was a moment of modernism. Like the German Art Nouveau, the Viennese Secession, or the English Modern Style, Catalan Modernism began in 1885 not as a new architectural style but a cultural movement encompassing literature and visual art. For example, the Palau de la Musica conceptualized by Domènech i Montaner paid homage to Catalan folk songs not just in reference to music but by building an allegory out of stone. On this city tour of Barcelona, walk along the street of the Golden Square and discover buildings by the most interesting and important Catalan architects of Modernism. You may never emerge from the wonderment inspired by the incredible decoration in this district. The following highlights await: - 1714 and beyond: the repercussions of the war of secession - The enslaved city - The wall is torn down - To a better future: Ildefons Cerda's utopia of the perfect city or why Eixample will tell another story - Like the phoenix from the ashes: the Catalan Renaissance - Barcelona cleans up: the Barcelona World's Fair - Barons of industry, the bourgeoisie, and festival in Raval - Gaudí's hour - A dragon's den with relics - or Karneval with confetti - Dali and the Chupa-Chups empire - Gaudí and New York - Passeig de Gracia: trencadís or shards bring luck -Three stars at the block of discord - The most famous quarry in the world - So many rooms but no place for the piano - The week of tragedy: Madonna must go - War of stars on the ceiling - Gaudí's trick with string - Sagrada Familia: Gaudí's lost plans And much more.