Barcelona Photoblog

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Casa Batllo, a Visionary Project by Gaudi

Casa Batllo Roof Tiles and Cross by Gaudi

Behold the triumphant cross of four arms by Gaudi that symbolizes the way in which the Gospel spreads out to every corner of the known world. Notice how such geometrical perfection resembles the hilt of a sword, maybe the very sword of Saint George, piercing through the arched scales of the horrendous dragon in its quest for the tender maid that rots in an infamous castle tower on any odd well protected rock in Montblanc, Tarragona. Just for this moment of transcendental reminiscing on the roof of Casa Batllo while watching Gaudi's magic your visit is worth the money. 

But we not only should thank Gaudi for his art here. As you know, most of the masterpieces that we admire today, are so, due to the disbursement of generous amounts of money by some unknown patron or businessman caring for his own well being. And so it was that in 1904, a well positioned family that had made a fortune in the textile industry and fostered five children bought this house at Paseo de Gracia 43. Believe it or not, Mr. and Mrs. Batllo first thought of tearing the whole place apart. No one wanted to be second best in this part of the city. Their house was in the middle of what is known today as the Apple of Discord, a small number of opulent houses off the old walls that were competing among each other to boast the best architecture in the brand new area of Ensanche. We have to say that hiring Gaudi was the most visionary decision of their lives and so we have to thank them on behalf of Barcelona and art. 

Other buildings in the Block or Apple of Discord have been dealt with in this blog in the past: The Lleó Morera house (1902) by Montaner and the Amatller house (1888) by Puig and Cadafalch. 

I took many other pictures but I leave you with this appetizer as I plan to save the rest for some other topics that elaborate on the famous history of Casa Batllo. Meet me there and thanks for dropping by after all the silence.

Check here Casa Batllo's Mask-Shaped Balconies in a previous Barcelona Photoblog post.


Friday, May 8, 2020

Spotted by Locals Barcelona


Every year, blog network Spotted by Locals asks their locals in 80 cities to choose their favorite blogs. As in the last few years, Barcelona Photoblog was included in the list of “Best Barcelona blogs” for this year!

Here’s a selection of 5 of the Spotted by Locals Barcelona locals’ favorite spots. Many more on the blog, or in the app.

Surf House Barcelona - Good vibrations



Surf House Barcelona (by Ilse de Ridder)

Barcelona is a city with a laid back vibe. No wonder it is home to skaters and – with a beach in town – many surfers. Barceloneta is a true hotspot with many places to rent surfboards and gear to give it a go. No wonder this neighbourhood is the place to be for Surf House Barcelona, a definite favourite in town for many of us! This beach bar has amazing juices and sandwiches! Guaranteed a healthy – or if preferred a more heavy – recovery weekend brunch.

La Llama Store - The store for humour lovers



La Llama Store (by Gina Xifra)

La Llama Store is focused on humour through books, art and other random items. This store has an art gallery where local artists show their work so you can also buy it. Be warned: Once you end up buying something, there is a high chance that you will return and want to spend more time checking out everything that they have. Every fan of humour, comics or just looking for a laugh must visit it.

Espai Mescladís - Gastronomy meets creativity



Espai Mescladís (by Tatiana Martinez)

Espai Mescladís is very colourful restaurant, with many curious objects and a vintage feel to it. The atmosphere was very multicultural and eclectic. What makes this place so special are the people working there; Moroccans, Africans, every culture but Spanish. This restaurant was actually created as part of a social project to help integrate immigrants through educational initiatives that also facilitate social work integration. Through their program “Cuinant Oportunitats” (literally meaning cooking opportunities), the organization Fundació Ciutadania Multicultural in charge of this project manages to get many groups of immigrants who are in high risk of exclusion into the market by giving them employment.

Sala Beckett - Walk this way for theatre



Graffiti Art (by Carlos Domeque)

Good contemporary theatre has to be cutting edge and Barcelona has no shortage of companies and venues that produce just that. Sala Beckett has been at the forefront of this for some time. Sala Beckett is both a theatre space and centre for workshops and masterclasses. The building they now inhabit is an old neighbourhood athenaeum or cultural centre, which with a few contemporary flourishes has been restored to its former glory. Even if you decide not to catch a show there, I recommend having a look around.

Re-read - Second-hand bookshop



Re-read (by Andia Ago)

Re-read is, as the name implies, a second-hand bookshop which is very welcoming, with its warm lights and stacks upon stacks of books. They are divided into categories and you can find books in many languages besides Spanish and Catalan. If you are looking for a specific book, you can use their online search engine which shows in which store you can find your book. What I usually like to do is wander around there for quite some time and pick up the books that look interesting to me.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Casa Berenguer or Casa Clapes - A Modernist Building with a Textile Past

Casa Berenguer or Casa Clapes, modernist building in Barcelona


Walking along the streets of L'Eixample Baix Esquerra (low left part of the Eixample quarter) I come across this beautiful historical restored house: Casa Berenguer or Casa Clapes, located exactly at 246 Diputacio carrer (street) and right in between two well known downtown busy roads, Rambla Catalunya and Balmes. 

This is the story of Casa Berenguer aka Clapes, yet another good example of Catalan architecture: 

It was the start of a century, times of prosperity, of fortunes amassed thanks to the endeavors of the Catalan bourgeoisie not only in Cuba before the war of independence but in the textile industry, the bulwark of the local economy. Bear in mind that it was in Catalonia where the first textile machinery was imported from Great Britain and its leadership in this sector has remained till today (from the 10 top companies in the Spanish textile market 7 are Catalan). Within this context and in combination with an artistic boom in all aspects of life, probably due to the economic bliss, distinguished families of well-being decided to hire famous architects that embarked in one of the most remarkable urban projects of the moment in Europe. Thanks to that spirit, that capitalist greed transformed into a sudden burst of interest in art, now we can admire everyday, for free, these hallmarks of Barcelona city. 

The story of Casa Berenguer begins with the Berenguer family of course and a lime factory in Altes, region of Bages. The years of dedication of Josep Berenguer Vilarasau in that factory inspired his descendants (from a family of weavers) that after his death in 1895, created a textile society called Nephews of Berenguer. The members of this society, Josep, Casimir and Francesc Clapes Berenguer bought a parcel of land from Sons of Antonio Escubos company. 

It was 1905 and the Berenguers decided to commission brothers Bassegoda i Amigo (Casa Bosch Alsina  1891 - 1892, Casa Rocamora 1914) to build a multi-family house that would hold their society headquarters and some rental apartments. The modernist house was finished in 1908. As an anecdote you should know that one of the brothers, Bonaventura Bassegoda i Amigo was a full professor and director at ETSAB (1922 - 1924), old Escuela Provincial de Arquitectura de Barcelona, founded in 1875 and first one in Catalunya. 

Casa Berenguer was remodeled in 1990 by a private company that offers offices for rent. It was thanks to that meticulous renovation that we enjoy the view in the image above of this unique modernist house included in the Architectural Heritage Catalog of the City of Barcelona. 

When we approach the façade of Casa Clapes, we are attracted like bees to flowers and stand amazed at the entryway, one of those ample porticos mostly prepared for carriages, with the elaborate woodwork by Joan Busquets i Jané, famous furniture maker and decorator (1874 - 1949) in the porter's sentry box and the coffered ceiling illuminated by marvelous lamps profuse in ironwork.

Outside, over the ground level, four floors of beauty rise before us, two of them festooned with an enormous tribune or gallery in which textile scenes abound and an upper one boasting two large balconies over which appears the image of a woman in the act of spinning. 

After sharing with you, Casa Berenguer, one of the many works of our artists it is time to keep walking. Who knows what architectural troves we'll find along the way!




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