L'Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample

The Gaixample, The University and El Ninot

The Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample is literally the Old Left Side of the Eixample and along with the Dreta de l'Eixample was one of the first areas to be urbanised when Barcelona was extended following the Cerdà Plan in the late 19th century.

The original neighbourhood was centred on the parish of Sant Josep Oriol, located between Gran Via and Carrer Diputació and Carrer Urgell and the University building.

In the 1880s, the Antiga Esquerra began to extend up the hill into the famous neighbourhood of El Ninot centred on the bar of the same name.

This establishment had a doll - ninot in Catalan - as a decorative feature, which ended up giving its name to a whole area of bars and restaurants centred on an open-air market of the same name.

The creation of Hospital Clinic and the University Medicine Faculty in 1907 and the building of the covered Mercat del Ninot in 1935 attracted investors interested in developing the neighbourhood as a residential area.

It was close to here that FC Barcelona had its legendary Camp de la Indústria stadium between 1909 and 1922 on what is now Carrer Paris.

The Ninot neighbourhood grew exponentially from the 1930s onwards and the various architectural styles catered mainly for the middle classes.

The lovely local market, El Mercat del Ninot, has recently reopened after a complete refurbishment, by the way, and there are plans create a number of parks in the area so the Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample is becoming an increasingly desirable place to live.


The main University building on Plaça de la Universitat, built by Elies Rogent between 1863 and 1882, remains the neighbourhood's most iconic construction and is well worth visiting.

It was one of the first buildings of the whole Eixample and its neomedieval style is a precursor to modernisme, which took off from 1880 onwards.

The Universitat de Barcelona now has campuses all over the city and the historic building currently houses the faculties of Philology and Mathematics.

Today the original nucleus of Antiga Esquerra de l'Eixample is a vibrant commercial zone centred on the celebrated Gaixample, where many of the businesses are run by the gay community.

The neighbourhood is certainly not exclusively gay but you do see quite a few rainbow flags in shop windows and apparently, the Gaixample really comes alive at night.

The picture above shows celebrations during the week of Gay Pride Barcelona, which is normally the last week in June or early July.

Given the nightlife and its proximity to Plaça Catalunya and Barcelona City Centre, this is also an excellent place to look for accommodation.

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