Barcelona has retained its original core as it has expanded. The city has three distinct architectural styles to see.
The city was a major power in the confederation of Catalonia-Aragon and was a maritime power in the Mediterranean. The Barri Gotic dates from this period, being full of the institutional buildings that were developed at that time - Palau de la Generalitat with the church of Sant Jordi, L’Ajuntament and Saló de cent, the Royal Palaces (Palau Reial Major, residence of the Counts Of Barcelona). The there is of course the Cathedral ( started at the end of the XIII century), The Church Santa Maria del Mar (dating from the XIV century) and many commercial buildings (Reials Drassanes – the largest Medieval shipyards of the world).
The industrial revolution caused a great boom in the population, and the city spread beyond its original city walls. In 1860, Idelfons Cerda designed the extension to the city, L’Eixample, based on the square block system of streets. And the flow of traffic is aided by the large avenue (Gran Via) and two diagonal avenues that dominate the system.
The exlargement was quickly followed my the Modernista or Modernist builings, for which perhpas Barcelona is best known today. Three buildings from the 1880’s to mark the beginnings of Modernism : The publishing house of Montaner i Simon(1880), Josep Vilaseca’s factory for F. Vidal (1884) and Gaudi’s Casa Vicens (1883- 5). The Modernist architects used differnt inspirations for their buildings, ranging from Romanesque to modern styles from in Germany or France. They all tend to be based on the use of natural forms: flowers and plants, plus decorative forms of ironwork, ceramics and stained glass. The aim was to create a new modern Catalan style of architecture.
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