The Diagonal is one of Barcelona´s main avenues. With the growing prosperity of the 1800s, the city expanded beyond the edges of the original old town with the building of Plaça Catalunya and the Eixample beyond. The Diagonal cuts through this “new” Barcelona. Here I will explore with you the shorter central stretch, easily reached on foot, by cycle or by public transport from Plaça Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia and Rambla Catalunya.
The Diagonal has some fine examples of Barcelona’s famed modernist architecture (see Sightseeing below), as well as a host of classy – but not always expensive – boutiques, shops and restaurants. Even though it is a main traffic thoroughfare, its wide palm-tree lined walkways amply accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, and you can hop on and off the many buses (including tour buses) that run along its length.
- Palau Robert (Passeig de Gràcia 107, Corner of Diagonal) – a substantial but relatively unremarkable classical building, its lovely garden with orange and palm trees is an oasis in the heart of the city. It hosts a range of exhibitions year round.
- Palau Baró de Quadras (Diagonal 373, just off Passeig de Gràcia) – a delightful palace combining neo-Gothic and modernist styles and richly decorated interiors. Open for visits except Mondays.
2 blocks along Diagonal away from Passeig de Gràcia and across the road is
- Casa Terrades (Diagonal 416, Corner of Bruc) – also known as the House of Spikes because of its pointed spires crowning a Gothic extravaganza resembling a castle that houses a residential block.
Go back along the Diagonal on the same side of the street to find
- Casa Comalat (Diagonal 442 just off Passeig de Gràcia) – a modernist building in the Gaudí style, with colourful ceramic features and curved stone arches and balcony. It is well worth visiting the rear of the building on carrer Còrsega
- Casa Fuster (Top of Passeig de Gràcia) – overlooking the garden square just off the Diagonal, this is another striking example of the modernist style with flowing stone columns and balconies. Now a luxury hotel.
- Casa Pérez Samanillo – Círculo Ecuestre (Balmes 169, Corner of Diagonal) – another fine example of modernisme, this palatial building features elegant turrets and flowing arched stone windows.
- Casa Sayrach (Diagonal 423, Corner of Enric Granados) – one of the last modernist houses to be built, its elegant stone-carved façade and richly decorated entrance lobby will charm you. It houses the classy La Dama restaurant. While you´re there, the adjoining house at Enric Granados 153 is worth having a look, especially for its lobby.
- Diagonal 556-564 (Corner of Aribau) – although relatively unremarkable at ground level, look up to see some imposing white stone rococo features and twin turrets. Best viewed from the opposite side of the Diagonal.
- Museu de l’Esport (Corner of Diagonal/Casanova) – this mansion, with a hint of an Alpine hotel, is home to one of Barcelona´s sports museums with displays relating to Catalan sporting achievements and Olympic history. Closed weekends.
Shopping in the Diagonal can offer both a high-end and a more affordable shopping experience, catering to all tastes and needs, with small specialist shops as well as the better-known chains like Zara and Mango.