The classic Barcelona apartment building, in which most of its inhabitants live, was built at the the end of the 19th or start of the 20th century in the art nouveau architectural style for which Barcelona is world-renowned.
The Eixample area is the late 19th century area of Barcelona that was built almost in its entirety in the art nouveau style. The Eixample is made up of city blocks that are hollow in the middle.
In this context, it is normal to talk of apartments as being either ‘interior’ or ‘exterior’. An apartment that is ‘exterior’ faces the street, and the outside of the city block. An apartment that is interior faces onto the interior of the city block, where you sometimes find a park. There are some apartments that re both interior and exterior, these typically are quite long and narrow.
Most apartment buildings in Barcelona are about 6 stories high, high rises or sky scrapers are not common. The naming of the different floors can be confusing to the unitiated, the ‘first floor’ can in reality be the third floor (or fourth floor if you are American and consider the ground floor to be the first floor). After the ground level you first come to an ‘entresuelo’ level, roughly this translates as inbetween. Then you come to a principal level. The principal was traditionally the finest and most expensive in the building, before the invention of the lift, when it was better to be close to the ground. After the principal comes the first, second and so on. Some buildings will have just an entresuelo or just a principal.
Nowadays nearly all buildings have a lift, typically this is a modern lift installed within the inner stairwell of the building.
Most apartments have two or more bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a lounge and sometimes a separate dining room. Many also have a terrace, or a ‘gallery’, which is an agreeable space with large windows at the back of the building, facing the inner courtyard. Often these apartments are quite dark inside compared to dwellings in other countries, this is cooler in the summer months. All our apartments have air conditioning and central heating as well.
It is very typcial to have one or two balconies facing the street, with French windows. Normally these will have attractive original wooden doors, and normally louvred shutters to block direct sunlight in summer. Many windows also have external blinds.
A highly attractive and much sought-after feature of many Barcelona apartments is their floor tiles. These have charming art nouveau patterns, usually detailed and colourful, they are the result of local workmanship and many traditional designs are now being produced once more.
With their decorative floors and French windows letting in warm mediterranean sunshine, the traditional Barcelona apartment is a highly agreeable space to live in or to stay in while visiting Barcelona.