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"Capital of a stateless nation, Mediterranean port city, the place where anarchism triumphed, the site of the rebirth of the Olympic movement in an orgy of spectacle and urban potential… Barcelona is all of these things at once." — Robert Davidson, A Companion to Catalan Culture, 2011 (p. 112)

Cities > Barcelona > 7 Things Tourists Don't Do in Barcelona, but You Should...

1) Go Beyond Gaudí

Underappreciated Catalan Modernisme in Dreta de L'Eixample

 

2023 Travel Update: As of 2023, Spain essentially is open for tourism by both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers without Covid-specific documentation or testing. However, be sure to double check the official government site for up-to-the minute details.

Nearly everyone who visits Barcelona spends time marveling at some of Antoni Gaudí's Modernisme masterpieces like the Sagrada Família Basilica; Casa Batlló and Casa Milà (La Pedrera); and Park Güell. These certainly are must-see Barcelona attractions.

However, like just about any other artistic era, Catalan Modernisme is not limited to one man's work. Not to discount Gaudí's accomplishments in the slightest, but there are many other architects who also created beautiful work in the Modernisme style who deserve far more recognition than they receive.

The Catalan government offers an official "Ruta del Modernisme" — with 120 works — but it is less of a route and more of an index. It only is available readily for purchase in Barcelona, as well. If you are an architecture student or find yourself in Barcelona for an extended time — as travelgasm.com has been for multiple visits — you might enjoy tracking down the entire list.

Our 7 Favorite Underappreciated Catalan Modernisme Gems

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To benefit those only in Barcelona for a few days, but who still would like to have a better understanding of the diversity of Catalan Modernisme, we burned days' worth of shoe leather to organize seven commonly overlooked favorites of ours into a short stroll that is both pleasant and logical. You're welcome.

We focused our walk in Dreta de L'Eixample. Planned in 1852 as part of a massive extension to the city, and so named because it is to the right of the beautiful Rambla de Catalunya when facing the mountains, Dreta long has been the wealthiest neighborhood in the center city. This area practically is an open air museum of Modernisme architecture. It has no shortage of tourists — especially on Passeig de Gracia — but tourists tend to swarm around the main attractions.

These seven Modernisme buildings — each from a different architect and each under appreciated, if not ignored entirely, by the vast majority of visitors to Barcelona — are listed in order on our map below:

  Address Built Architect
1) Casa Llopis Bofill C/ de Bailèn 113 1903 Antoni Maria Gallissa i Soque
2) Conservatorio Municipal de Música de Barcelona C/ del Bruc 110 1916 Antoni de Falguera i Sivilla
3) Casa Santurce (Casa Pau Ubarri) C/ de València 293 1902 Miquel Madorell i Rius
4) Casa Josefa Villanueva C/ de València 312 1909 Juli Maria Fossas i Martinez
5) Casa Thomas C/ de Mallorca 293 1898 Lluis Domenech i Montaner
6) Palau del Baró de Quadras (Casa Asia) Av Diagonal 373 1904 Josep Puig i Cadafalch
7) Casa Comalat Av Diagonal 442 1911 Salvador Valeri i Pupurull

Of the above, Casa Thomas formally is flagged as a tourist attraction these days — the ground floor has long housed the Casa Cubiñá furniture store, so access is easy — and Palau del Baró de Quadras has been open for paid tours since 2016. Given the convenient location, and Barcelona's never ending effort to wring as much money out of its architectural history as possible, it is a safe bet that these buildings will become better and better known over time. Many likely always will be under appreciated, though.

Where to Eat Catalan Modernisme

To complete our Modernisme walk, it makes sense also to eat in architecturally significant buildings in the neighborhood. A great sit-down option are the bars in La Concepció Market, established in 1888 and locally famous for its innovative cast iron construction. We have eaten at Bar Manuel — to your left if entering La Concepió from Carrer de València — a couple of times and enjoyed it. The other side of the market is on Carrer d'Aragó, which by Barcelona's high standards is an unpleasant, high speed, one-way street, and is best to be avoided as much as possible. Carrer d'Aragó would be better if it were converted from one-way to two-way traffic and had its vehicle lanes reduced (referred to as a "road diet" by those in the city planning game). The city has completely transformed Consell de Cent — one block toward the sea from Carrer d'Aragó — from a traditional vehicular dominated street into a lovely "green hub" that prioritizes walking, so perhaps Barcelona will make improvements to Carrer d'Aragó before too much longer, too.

If it is a sunny day and you would like to eat during your stroll or stop for an outdoor picnic, proper Modernisme choices for takeaway include the Forn De Pa Pastisseria (Forn Sarret) bakery and the Queviures Murria gourmet grocery store, both established in 1898. A good outdoor spot to sit down and eat is the small courtyard Jardins de Laura Albéniz pocket park.

Below, we have mapped out the most pleasant route between two metro stations — Girona and Diagonal — to connect the underappreciated Modernisme architecture in addition to the places to eat.

How to Get Here: Take Line 4 (Yellow) to Girona Station and use the Consell de Cent Exit to begin our suggested walk. You should pop out of the metro with the Forn De Pa Pastisseria (Forn Sarret) bakery to your immediate left. To depart, a convenient option is Diagonal Station (Line 3, Green) via the Diagonal/Pau Claris Entrance. Diagonal Station also provides a platform for Line 5 (Blue) and connects to FCG Provença Station (Metro & Suburban Lines) via underground tunnel.

travelgasm.com's Catalan Modernisme in Dreta de L'Eixample Map (Full Screen)


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All 7 Things Tourists Don't Do in Barcelona, but You Should:

  • 1) Modernisme Beyond Gaudí
  • 2) Rambla del Poblenou
  • 3) Sant Antoni
  • 4) Sarria
  • 5) Parc del Turo del Putxet
  • 6) Sant Andreu
  • 7) La Guineueta-Verdum

Be sure to see our Top 7 Things to Do in Barcelona, too.

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  • Writing & Photos By Brock Kyle. All Rights Reserved. Update Published 6 January 2023. Feedback.