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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Grand Luxury Hotel Casa Fuster Modernist Landmark of Barcelona

Hotel Casa Fuster Grand Luxe 5 Star Monument Leading Hotels of the World
Hotel Casa Fuster by architect Domenech i Montaner - picture by Carlos Lorenzo


Do you want to discover one of the top modernist landmarks in Barcelona? Come visit with me the Grand Luxury Hotel Casa Fuster, member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World group, a jewel of Catalan Art Nouveau architecture.

History


Hotel Casa Fuster started being just a casa modernista but it was not any odd house indeed. This beauty was built by the matchless architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner who was commissioned by Don Mariano Fuster i Fuster, illustrious member of the Mallorcan high society apropos of his marriage to Miss Consuelo Fabra i Puig, daughter of the Marquis of Alella.

In fact, Fuster wanted to give this house to his wife as a wedding present and there were no limits for expenses. He put the house under his wife's name and dedicated a rose window to her, on the facade of Jesus Street where you can read her initials CF.

Domenech's work was the first house in Barcelona built with white marble and cost 13 million pesetas, a fortune that made it the most expensive in the city at that time, one year before La Pedrera by Gaudi, which is about 400 meters away down Passeig de Gracia.

Those were times in which houses talked a lot about the class of their owners. The history of this famous street is that of the war of egos among the powerful elite of wealthy businessmen and nobles on each side of the road. Can you imagine this magnificent white marble five story building, shining on top of the hill at the end of Passeig de Gracia? 1,920 square meters of property on the premises of an old chocolate factory demolished in 1905 stating clearly that it was second to none.

Hotel Casa Fuster Corner Tower
Corner of Hotel Casa Fuster facing Gran de Gracia street
 
The works began in 1908 and ended in 1911, the year in which the family entered to live on the noble floor, that is, the first one. The rest of the floors were for rent. This was very common in Barcelona. It really helped covering the ostentatious expenses.

What is today the main entrance of the hotel was the access for carriages that used to go through till the opposite side, a back alley in which there is a church. On the other hand, what we know at present as Café Vienés was the family events room in which there was a staircase to go up to the private floor of the family.

In the early twenties the family had to sell the house. It was impossible to keep such pace, not even by renting the upper floors. Nevertheless the flats remained for rent long after the owners left.

Over the years, businesses such as a barber shop and a grocery store were prosperous in the area of Cafe Vienes famous for its jazz concerts nowadays every Thursday from 9 to 11 pm. Another part of the building, what at present is the Sala Doménech i Montaner in the underground floor used to be a very popular dance hall in the middle of the 50s known as "The Blue Danube". It was a place of reunion for the different social strata in the city.

Famous Cafe Vienes in Hotel Casa Fuster


But that is not all. The house changed from hand to hand several times according to the historical ups and downs of the city so it was not strange to see the consulate of Hitler's Germany or the Italian Institute during Mussolini's dictatorship occupying one of the floors. Although not all was that fascist in its records! The same floor was taken by the POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unification) to establish their headquarters in 1936. Also the Defense Committee of the Revolution by the Iberian Communist Youth was organized here. In 1939, once Republicans lost the civil war, Franco's Falange settled in the house and also their official Social Assistance institutions.

By the way, this was the house of the famous Catalan poet Salvador Espriu for 30 years! It is said that he did not want to abandon the premises until a leg injury impaired him and made it impossible for him to climb the stairs. 

In 1962 the company ENHER (the Ribagorzana Hydroelectric Company) bought the house for 11 million pesetas. The intention was to tear down Casa Fuster and start a more functional high rise building called Barcelona Tower. There was a tremendous campaign to defend this urban heritage, led by important personalities and publications such as Oriol Bohigas and Destino magazine.

As a result of the general protests ENHER, not only did not demolish the house, but promised to make a restoration of the building.

The Hotel


In 1999 "Casa Fuster" was on sale and in the year 2000 it was bought by Hoteles Center.

It is now the property of a group of companies called GRUPO NOGA (the initials of the name and surnames of the owner). The group's headquarters are in Granada, where the company opened its first hotel in 1992. There are others in Cordoba, Badajoz, Seville and Valencia.

Opened in 2004, Hotel Casa Fuster started attracting foreign and local clients alike. It was a privilege to sleep in such beautiful landmark not only because of the architecture but because of the history. This well deserved fame made it part of the most expensive hotels in the village. You may easily spend here more than 1000 euros per room although the standard ones are about 255 EUR (+VAT). Of its 105 rooms, only 67 are standard bedrooms. The rest are superior rooms, junior suites and suites. The company also owns Suite Center Barcelona apartments in Passeig de Gracia 128, some steps away from the entrance.

Grand Luxe Hotel Casa Fuster on Passeig de Gracia 132 - Front Façade
Hotel Casa Fuster Front Façade on Passeig de Gracia 132
 
The list of famous guests is countless but as you know a hotel like this strictly protects the privacy of its clients. You'd better Google them up.

Not only you can sleep in an enormous King size bed with a view of Sagrada Familia but you can enjoy the popular terrace from where Passeig de Gracia is all in front of your eyes right until Plaça Catalunya, 10 blocks away.

The hotel has eleven meeting rooms, a gym, a sauna and a massage room. There is the Galaxó Restaurant on the first floor which has an average price of 60 euros and has a menu called 'modernist' for 40 euros. Besides being a place to stay and find solace, Hotel Casa Fuster is much more. It is the central spot for all sort of events and activities, such as weddings, anniversaries, baptisms, bachelor parties, business meetings, congresses, cocktails, spots, movies...you name it.

Guests are pampered by hotel staff from the doormen till the last employee and that is perhaps what makes it so unique on top of the architecture and history.

The Architect


Lluís Domènech i Montaner was a prolific architect. His professional life began in 1874 with the pantheon project for Anselm Clavé, in Poblenou's cemetery in Barcelona, and ended in 1919 with Casa Domènech in Canet de Mar.

During forty-five years he produced more than seventeen buildings among other projects, of which 46% corresponds to housing, 25% to public architecture, 16% to funeral architecture, 6% to monuments, 4% to religious architecture and 3 % to industrial architecture.

Doménech i Montaner, also known for Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de la Musica, which he build in parallel to Casa Fuster was a modernist architect of international renown and a professor of architecture. In fact, Gaudi was Montaner's pupil in the school of architecture.

His style may look more sober than Gaudi's but it is by no means less solid as he was the father sort to say, of Catalan modernisme.

Check the images above and admire the impressive facades of Casa Fuster, in which the architect avoids the straight lines as much as possible with the intention of creating movement while highlighting representative ornaments of nature like flowers, plants and birds. Remember that Doménech i Montaner was also a botanist! This man was a genius overshadowed by the Messi of architecture, Antonio Gaudi.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The 4 Best Animals to Hunt in Spain

Spain is a geographically diverse country located in Southwestern Europe; its southern tip consists of the British Overseas territory of Gibraltar, with the narrow Strait of Gibraltar separating the territory from the Northern tip of Africa. Its position gives rise to a broad range of wildlife and scenery which makes Spain a fantastic country to explore, as well as an increasingly popular hunting destination.

Here is a brief guide to some of the most popular game animals found in the country.

Hunting in Spain

Gun laws in Spain are much more restrictive than the US, as is the case for most European countries, and organized hunting trips will often provide visitors with a hunting rifle. Again, like most European countries there are less restrictions on small caliber hunting weapons. If you are just visiting, then you will probably want to rent equipment rather than purchasing it. Note that prices also vary when compared to the US. In the US you can find a 9mm for sale under 200, however guns of this type are not available for purchase in Spain.

Red Deer

The Iberian red deer is smaller than its European counterpart, weighing in at somewhere between 180-220 lbs on average. Its coat is not as thick as the European variety and tends to be lighter in color. Its antlers are very fine and can have upwards of 20 points, but are not as long or as heavy when compared with European red deer. The national population is estimated to be around 350,000 and it is probably the most popular game animal in the country. The second half of September is peak hunting season for the Iberian red deer.

Fallow Deer

The fallow deer is a medium-sized deer, its shoulder height is around 36-43 inches and it weighs in at between 140-220 lbs on average. The color of its coat varies more than with most other deer species. It is a diurnal animal, meaning that it is usually active very early and very late during the day. The fallow deer has excellent senses, its vision, hearing, and sense of smell are exceptional, especially when compared to other deer. It stands out among other deer as being one of the few that barks when it is startled.

Mouflon

The European mouflon is one of the smallest wild sheep in the world, it has a shoulder height of around 30 inches and weighs in at under 100 lbs. Its appearance is similar to that of domestic sheep in the Unites States, the main difference being that its outer coat consists of hair with the wool being concealed beneath.

Ronda Ibex

The ibex is one of Spain’s most iconic animals and is a popular game mammal. The Ronda ibex is the smallest variety of ibex found in the country and also has the smallest horns. It is popular as a hunting target owing to its small size and agility.

Spain is an excellent location to take a hunting vacation, it offers a variety of wildlife to hunt and scenery to hunt it in.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Toast to Catalonia for New Year's Eve 2017

Cava Pink Cups by Juve i Camps

New Year's Eve 2017 is here and it well deserves a big toast for Catalonia in a turbulent year that has not been pleasant to anyone.

No matter what your political views are, you have to agree with me that this is a beautiful land that has done great things for this country, whatever you consider your country to be. 



      vs     


You may be on the Spanish side or the Catalan side. Perhaps you are somewhere in between, you feel Catalan and Spanish. You may believe in an independent republic or you may believe in a Catalonia that is part of Spain. You may trust in the Spanish constitution and its 155 article or you may not...and whatever your opinions, your beliefs you have the sovereign right to think so because this is a democracy, right? And you will certainly agree with me in that violence only generates violence, hatred only generates hatred, not only on governmental instances but at family level as well.

As I said before, Catalonia is a wonderful extension of land inhabited by extraordinary people that love to work hard to make ends meet and dream of a better society to live on so let's raise our cups in honor of our beloved territory with one of our best products Catalan cava!

Happy New Year's Eve 2017 and Happy New Year everyone!



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