Two Sides of Avinguda Roma
Stretching out along Gran Via unti the border with Sants, the Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample as its name suggests was built more recently than the Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample closer to Barcelona City Centre.
Whilst pleasant enough, this section of the Eixample between Comte d’Urgell and Carrer Tarragona on one axis and Gran Via and Josep Tarradellas on the other lacks a clear centre and its two sections seem divided rather than united by its central avenue Avinguda de Roma.
The neughbourhood’s three main buildings, Casa Batlló, now the Escola Industrial, the Modelo Prison and the Escorxador Slaughterhouse, now a park dedicated to Joan Miró, date back to the the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
However, these buildings were dotted on the outskirts of town and urbanisation of the Nova Esquerra didn’t really begin until the 1930s and much of the area is considerably more recent.
Until the 1930s this part of Barcelona comprised small groupings of shacks occupied by workers who had come to the city to do the construction work on what would become the 1929 Universal Exposition and the Barcelona Metro system.
The main building of the area closest to Gran Via, Sants and Plaça d’Espanya had always been the Escorxador – the municipal slaughterhouse – which was founded in 1892 and remained in operation until 1979, when the area was converted into the Parc de l’Escorxador as had been the original idea when the Eixample was designed.
The park was opened in 1983 and is also known as the Parc de Joan Miró as it the sculpture Dona i Ocell – Woman and Bird – by the great Catalan artist that dominates the area and has become one of the symbols of Barcelona.
Nearby is the old Arenas bullring, now a shopping centre, and a little further down Gran Via in the city centre direction you’ll come to Casa Golferichs.
This delightful Modernista building was built and designed by Joan Rubió i Bellver in 1901 and is now a local community centre.
Current plans for the Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample include the modernisation of the Avinguda de Roma (shown above), the central avenue that divides the neighbourhood in two.
Hopefully, when work is finished, the area will gain a proper centre because until now, I cannot help feeling that the Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample has lacked identity and has always been an area you passed through on your way from Barcelona City Centre to Plaça Espanya or Sants.
The two main buildings in the area closest to Avinguda Josep Tarradellas and Les Corts are the Escola Industrial and the Modelo Prison.
The Modelo dates back to 1904 and remains Barcelona’s main prison.
Originally the Can Batlló textile factory, which was built in 1869, the Escola Industrial (shown above) is a group of fine Modernista buildings occupying four blocks of the Eixample.
It opened as Barcelona’s Industrial and Technology School in 1914 and has served a similar purpose ever since.