Barcelona Photoblog: 2017

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. 


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!

December 23, 2017

Tuna Tataki for Christmas Main Course

Tuna Tataki served on a bone marrow by Carlos lorenzo - Barcelona Photoblog

Are you trying to come up with ideas for your Christmas main course, do you really want to surprise your family with something totally off the beaten track in these times of religion inspired celebrations?

Then why don't you go for an authentic Tuna Tataki, the Japanese way.

As you know Barcelona Photoblog works around the inspiration of an image to make up a story and I had this beautiful tuna tataki photograph I took in one of my favorite spots in the city:

The chef there surprised me with this exquisite presentation of small tuna cubes dipped in ponzu sauce adorned with wasabi pearls and some caviar served on a bone with its marrow.

I was already a fan of tataki  (Japanese たたき: "pounded" or "hit into pieces"). I remember having my best ever tataki made with almadraba tuna, in a Rio Tinto mine restaurant in Huelva. Man, was that something!!!

And so I decided to take some self teaching. I have seen the most weird recipes on the web but I fell in love with a very simple one made by a real Japanese chef, no pretentious high class cuisine stuff, who prepares the fish fast and totally for dummies. In my opinion the important thing is how to sear and slice the tuna. The following video will show you how.

 These are the only ingredients you need:
  •  Slice onions
  •  Wakame seaweed (I can skip this)
  •  Corn Oil (or Olive Oil in my case)
  •  Scallions (like a thin calçot)
  •  Cucumber
  •  Ponzu Sauce
  •  Micro green leaves like Shiso for example
  •  Tomato and a slice of lemon for decoration

Here is Hiroyuki Terada in his Diaries of a Master Sushi Chef

By the way, while you are at it, why not learning at least basic japanese Kana symbols, with the Kanji Study app for Android or for iOS. I killed a lot of time on a plane once learning this. Or perhaps you can take your first steps with Duolingo Japanese course.

Happy different Christmas everyone!

Best wishes

December 18, 2017

Create the Best Photo Effects with Movavi Photo Editor


Movavi Photo Editor: Photo Effects

Are you taking the first footsteps in the long road of photography and photo editing? Do you have experience but you don’t have time enough for long sessions using topnotch complex software or perhaps your budget is too low to even think of buying the latest suite everybody is talking about? If any of that is true then you’ve come to the right place.

I would like to recommend to you a very solid all-in-one tool that is fast, intuitive, incredibly easy to use and what’s best, affordable! This tool is the Movavi Photo Editor and among its many strong points I would like to place emphasis on the photo effects which is the main reason I fell for this software.

In a world in which social media claims for striking images to stand above the crowd, sharing pictures that are edited with the right effects and doing it fast can help you create a style of your own or may give more strength to the ideas you want to transmit.

The Effects option is an exquisite selection of multi-purpose filters that range from Classic to Color fantasy, as you can see in the capture below. 

Photo effects with Movavi Photo Editor

The Movavi Photo Editor 5 effects allow you to create that striking vignette in one or two clicks, a result that otherwise would take working with layers or using a plugin in other products.

Adjusting the intensity with the sliders you can tune up your latest shot using the Classic - Lomo effect or the Retro – Nosferatu to produce highly attractive images or perhaps if you prefer softness you may apply a gentle warm bokeh in the Texture section.

Photography is like painting sometimes so a Gauguin or El Greco filter can turn you pic into a masterpiece.

And last but not least, a special mention to the Tilt-Shift effect inside the Artistic module that you miss sometimes in similar products.

The fact that there is a list of the most popular effects all in one place saves some time while at work. And the Surprise Me button might come up handy when you are not sure about what effect to choose.

To finish I have to say that what I enjoy the most is to have a preview of all the effects applied to my image on the right panel next to the original so I anticipate results.

Other features

Here are some other great features of the Movavi Photo Editor:

1- It comes with a clean interface:

In any photography working space you need to have a certain order so your workflow is logical and you don’t get distracted by too many windows. Having all at hand and organized is a most.

2- There is a brief introduction

A long welcoming tour can be overwhelming sometimes although newbies need some leads as to where is what. This software handles that by implementing an easy 8 steps guide which is more than enough for starters.

3- Visual help on the most difficult tasks:

This tool does many, many things, in an almost insulting, simple and robust way, but you need to know how to remove an object or change a background sometimes for example. To take care of that you have a comprehensive user guide and how to section in the top menu plus some extra visuals while you work for fast understanding of the procedure.

4- Drag and drop images

The program allows you to drag and drop images besides the usual browsing and gives you the possibility to resume the last edited picture prioritizing speed in the creation process.

5- Comprehensive list of file formats

Movavi inputs most common image file formats, including RAW and TIFF files although it cannot output GIF for example. For the full list check the User Guide.

6-A wide range of editing options for a budget:

There is a wide range of post processing options in the editor but I will concentrate on the ones that I find more useful to me as a photographer and social media enthusiast.

Here is my selection besides the unbelievable photo effects mentioned above:

Adjust: Usual adjustment options with sliders. All in one set not in different modules like in other programs. I love the so called Magic Enhance option on top that works superbly to save you all the tweaking with wonderful results.

Retouching: Did you ever need a fast retouching tool for those freckles in your subject’s face, cleaning that dust spot in your skies or whitening those unnatural yellow teeth? This option solves that last minute annoyance in seconds when you are sharing pictures in Facebook for example, a couple of clicks and voila.

Object Removal: With different selection tools you can swipe out an entire object leaving no trace of it. While the process takes place, you get nice trivia info on photography topics on screen.

Change background: But what about if you want to throw away the whole background that is ruining the fantastic magic moment of your model? This tool works neatly in this respect. Maybe you need to learn how to use the brush or the lasso tool but you have a visual on top to explain how it works.

Possibilities are infinite with Movavi Photo Editor. The ability of sharing to Facebook directly from the interface is awesome. I think some more popular networks would be appreciated in future updates though.

I hope this article is useful to you and helps you make the best out of your pictures!

December 11, 2017

Christmas Catalan Caga Tio Will Not Only Bring Presents

  • Caga Tió is a Catalan Christmas tradition. 
  • It involves a log that is fed scraps of food and then hit with a stick to make it "poop" presents. 
  • The presents are often turrón, a traditional Catalan sweet. 
  • The origins of Caga Tió are unknown, but it is thought to have originated as a pagan fertility ritual. 
  • Today, Caga Tió is a fun way for Catalan families to celebrate Christmas and pass on their culture to the next generation. 

 Here are some additional facts about Caga Tió: 

  • The log is typically decorated with a face and a hat. 
  • There is a traditional song that is sung while hitting the log. 
  • The presents are usually hidden inside the log or under a blanket. 
  • Caga Tió is often celebrated on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

The second best Christmas gift delivery entity, after Santa Claus, at least in Catalonia, is as you well know by now, Mr. Caga Tio, expression that in the English world is timidly translated as Pooping Log. Let's not fool ourselves, in Catalan it means, shitting log. Once clarified such euphemistic interpretation, let us proceed.

Compared to Santa, alias Noel, or Nicholas, Caga Tió is less handsome and much more sun dried in appearance, a hard looking fellow, not very valid for Christmas shopping publicity campaigns!

But what is the story behind this local hero aka tió de Nadal (navidad)?, come with me and let's find out:

Caga Tió, the Pagan History

First of all, let us make one thing clear, a tió is different from tio which means 'uncle'. In Catalan, a tió is a big log.. And so this is the story of a log, a big thick chunk, that since time immemorial has been chosen from a pile of wood in the farm houses, called masias here in Catalonia, to make a fire to stand the hardships of winter. It was not any kind of log though. Usually it was a soca, that is a tree stump.

There was a point in time, in which that stump, which was burning from December to January, was not only a mute comrade of oh so many winter nights, but eventually became an object of veneration and its ashes were scattered around the house and the fields as a sort of offering to the sun and the benediction of crops.

It must be said that nativity festive celebrations didn't start till IV century AC to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus but the cult of the burning log in your hearth, is a pagan ritual that started way back in time.

When did the log turn into a small buddy with barretina (traditional Catalan hat) and four legs?

It seems that it all began as recently as XVIII or XIX centuries, in the mountainous rural areas of Catalonia. People decided that this figure would no longer have to be burned, but it was supposed to be at home safe and sound, for kids to beat with a stick at will and which eventually would yield presents, like a mother delivers a son, or the earth gives her fruit. Caga tio, I would say, is a cheap kind of Christmas in itself.

What is the liturgy around caga tio?

In the most pure Pagan way and with permission of Christianity, the child log, is laid somewhere in the house and is pampered by parents and children alike by providing him with food to later cover him with a blanket and hit him mercilessly while singing a popular song, like a tribe honoring some deity.

After the punishment, the poor wooden figure, plays to be God, and showing forgiveness, gives out presents among parishioners, in this case, elated kids.

When is Caga Tió supposed to materialize at home?

Our Christmas log, though ugly, is the antithesis of Mr. Scrooge, he, (or she) represents generosity, love and couldn't be more of a familiar guy, as he is supposed to be at the house from December 8th until Christmas day. Not like his always busy, polar partner, that is almost late for the party every year.

What particular presents does 'el tío' bring?

According to the song, Caga Tío brings, almonds and nougat when it is well fed and happy, but herrings or other salty stuff at the end of his hard laboring or if hungry. Kids are sent to another room, in theory to pray, after each beating. In the meantime, parents do their thing so the log keeps giving birth till exhausted.

What do Catalans expect from Caga Tió this season?

Well, this question goes out of the script but we might as well ask tío more than just presents. I ask him to give us a wise solution to the Catalan problem, a nice candidate we can root for in coming elections and the demise of the current Spanish corrupt government.

In a way, they think we are a Christmas log that is generous after being beaten to death, but every God, has his own wrath, so one day we will give them what they deserve, and what should be yielded by a pooping log.

December 06, 2017

Fill Your Books For Your Photography Business This Festive Season


The festive season is a time where families reconnect, and everyone’s diaries are filled with festive parties, local events, and family meals. A lot of people want to be able to document these special, sentimental events in high quality, so photographers are in high demand. It may be hard to stand out from the competition, especially if you are only just starting out. Here are some services you can market, along with your qualifications and photography style, to ensure your bookings are filled to the brim. 

Festive Photo Booth

For work parties and family get-togethers, where the alcohol intake is high, and everyone lets their hair down a little, a festive photo booth can be a really nice touch. A photo booth with fun, festive themed props and costumes gives a relaxed and unique feel to the obligatory “everyone in” photo and gives something extra on top of the usual photography services. Having the service open throughout the evening means individuals, and couples, can have their own moment in the evening captured intimately, rather than the event photos which could have captured them with their mouth full from the buffet, or in an unpleasant light. This can also help to bring in a little more profit, as you can offer instant prints for individuals to take home on the night at an extra cost.

Follow Around Photography

For events that pull the mass crowds together for Christmas like Winter Wonderlands, Festive Amusement Parks, and Santa's Grottos, it may seem like personal photos are not an option. However, letting a family hire your services as a follow around has a lot of perks for both you and the family. When out with the family, there is always that one person behind the camera who always gets missed out from every photo. The ‘designated photographer.’ This service means natural, un-posed moments - like laughter - can be captured including the whole family. Having a lightweight camera, like this mirrorless camera, that has a built-in image stabilizer, will mean you are still producing top quality images even when in the hustle and bustle of a large, popular attraction. You can also offer services on top - like putting an album together of the pictures taken - to bring in a little extra profit. The exclusivity of this service and extremely high quality means you can charge a premium price. Just be sure to have an open conversation with your client about what may, or may not, be possible with this type of service. You can also take this opportunity to find out more about them and what kind of photos they like seeing themselves in.

Midnight On New Year's Eve

When the year becomes new, and the spectacular fireworks begin - a special moment is always shared between couples and families. Capturing this moment themselves can not only be unsuccessful - blurry and low quality - but also pulls them away from the moment, making it less intimate and memorable. Offering a service that captures this moment will help you stand out from the competition, as few people are prepared to set aside their own New Year’s celebrations in order to work. Being such a prestigious night, this will also classify as a premium price service.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas how you can help your photography services to stand up against your competitors this season.

November 29, 2017

Top 5 Alternative Things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona attracts millions of visitors every year, and it has some amazing places that you can visit. However, there is so much more to see than just the obvious attractions. Barcelona is buzzing with restaurants, bars and a few places you might not have heard about much before. For the aspiring traveler or blogger, your readers will love the idea of seeing these alternatives that are not as busy with the usual tourists.

Sub-Zero Beach Bar

When you are on the beach in Barcelona, one thing you can almost always count on is heat. However, there is a place where you might want to wrap up a little. Located on the beach at Port Olympic, you can drink vodka from a frozen glass, take a look at the beautiful ice sculptures and cool off after a hot day sightseeing.

Steel Donkey Tour

You won’t be riding a steel donkey as such, it is actually another name for a bicycle, but the tour part is correct. These tours are not your typical Barcelona trips they take in many of the back streets in El Borne, the village district of Gracia and the old ruins or Poblenou. Along the way, you are treated to flea markets, squat houses and recycled workshops. There are plenty of photo opportunities for you to share, you can create a poster of your favorites and post it on social media. It is a big hit with those looking to see other parts of the city, and it is a fun-filled day out in its own right.

Make Your Own Cava

One thing that anyone who goes to Spain will want to try is their world-famous Cava. However, with this experience, you can do more than taste it, you can try your hand at creating your own. Take a trip by train to a 1,000-year-old farmhouse in the Penedes wine region in Spain. You can try a variety of wines and then get the chance to bottle your own and apply your custom-made label. There are a few such places as this in Spain so even if you cannot leave the city, you can still have the same experience.

The Escape Rooms

If you like solving puzzles and have a few friends with you, why not try one of the many companies that have escape rooms in the city. They have many scenarios to choose from, and along the way, you will be required to crack codes and find missing keys. Although this isn’t uniquely Barcelona, it is good fun, and it will pass a nice afternoon.


If you are fed up trying to get around the city on, then the Barcelona e-bikes might just be what you need. They are bikes that have a battery powered motor attached; it gives you enough power to ride up and down the hills easily. It also lets you get around the city without having to sit in traffic or on a hot coach. These are just a few of the many things you can do in Barcelona without having to visit the main tourist attractions or go too far outside the city.

November 28, 2017

Catalan Olives and Where to Buy Best Olive Oil in Barcelona


Olives and the oil extracted from them are the very essence of Mediterranean countries. They permeate our traditions, our idiosyncrasy and our very existence, since they give us health too. Wild olives were collected by Neolithic peoples as early as the 8th millennium BC. Its trees were grown even before language came to life. Shrub-like "feral" olives still exist in the Middle East and represent the original stock from which all other olives are descended. 

Oil was used to anoint athletes after winning or was applied to the dead. Olive oil purifies and soothes the soul, cleanses the mind. Does that mean that if you use the extra virgin kind, would you be cleaner?. I digress. By the way, virgin or extra virgin, means that you do not use chemicals to produce it, that you get the oil just by pressing the olives. 


In Catalonia, there are many varieties of olives that are cultivated across the region. Among them you have the picual (very common and responsible for 25 % of all oil in the world), the empeltre (black) , the arbequina (smaller, very tasty and one of my favorites). Also cornicabra, blanqueta, farga, manzanilla fina and sevillana just to mention some. 

Before buying olive oil you should know that some of them really make the difference. There is good Andalusian oil, and there is good Catalan oil, and so on. I have bought myself extremely good olive oil in Priego, Cordoba for example and have found good rivals many times in oils produced in Lleida, Catalonia. 

Here is a good article on where to buy excellent olive oil in Barcelona  

At the local markets you can find gourmet stands specialized in Catalan olive oil like this one at Mercat de la Concepció from Les Garrigues, Lleida   where you can buy excellent Arbequina extra virgin olive oil 

But where to buy the olives? I recommend you visit this stand at Mercat de Sant Antoni Olives i Conserves Torres.

Here are some more places to buy olive oil in Barcelona:

Orolíquido: Located at Palla, 8 in the Gothic Quarter, Orolíquido is a charming shop that showcases a wide selection of extra virgin olive oils from top producers. In addition to oils, they also offer natural cosmetic products that contain olive oil as an ingredient. The shop is known for hosting tastings, product presentations, and conferences.

Olives i conserves El Piñol: Situated at La Rambla, 91, El Piñol is a stall within the vibrant Mercat de la Boqueria. Here, you can find an extensive variety of olives, alongside a curated selection of international and gourmet products. It's a great place to explore the rich flavors and options available.

Olives i conserves Merino: Located at Creu Coberta, 93, within the Mercat d'Hostafrancs, Merino is renowned for its wide range of olives, including sweet varieties. Apart from olives, the shop focuses on appetizer specialties, offering an assortment of conserves for vermouth. They also feature a selection of Cavas, wines, and gourmet Italian products.

Vom Fass Barcelona: Vom Fass, situated at Cigne, 14, is a shop that pays homage to olive oil. It has been recognized by the Barcelona City Council for its sustainable model. The shop offers an array of products, including the finest extra virgin olive oils, flavored oils (such as fruit-infused and nut oils), and a diverse selection of vinegars and balsamics.

Oli Sal: Nestled in the Gràcia neighborhood at Travessera de Gràcia, 170, Oli Sal is a specialty shop that shares its name with two daily essentials: olive oil and salt. With a passion for extra virgin olive oil, they offer a range of oils sourced from different geographic regions. Additionally, they provide an assortment of salts and vinegars from various locations.

Olis 1921: Situated at Entença, 124, Olis 1921 is a shop owned by a cooperative that brings together different producers of arbequina olive oil, which is crafted in the Lleida region of Les Garrigues. This shop specializes in extra virgin olive oil, emphasizing the properties and value of this precious ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. They also offer organic options.

November 23, 2017

Becoming a Pubilla, An Ancestral Tradition in Catalonia


Every year pubilles and hereus from all over Catalonia participate in a contest summoned by organizations that promote traditions of the past in the region. As was described in a previous post in Barcelona Photoblog, a pubilla is the heiress in a family where there is no son. She is the eldest daughter, must be between 16 and 21 years old and inherits the home and the estate. The hereu, is the heir, in those cases when there is a son. Families with pubilles were supposed to receive a contribution from the family of the groom, that unlike dowries, were voluntary. This contribution was called aixovar, from Arabic, assovár.

Being elected as the pubilla or the hereu of their municipality or in a final national contest, the representatives of all Catalonia, is a privilege for these youngsters who feel proud of defending the traditions of their ancestors. They will be honor guests in all minor festivities concerning these matters around Catalonia and will be received by the president of the Catalan parliament. A visit to Montserrat Monastery will be a must in their schedule.

Check also this post about Pubilles and Hereus or this one featuring a dancer in traditional dress.

November 18, 2017

Where to Have Real Italian Ice Cream in Barcelona

Gelaaati Di Marco Italian Ice Cream Barcelona

Although real good Italian ice cream you have to try in Italy, there are some good parlors in Barcelona that keep up with customer expectations.

As with everything in this life, you have genuine things and bad copies, like JFK and Trump for example. There are the touristic spots, the local shops and then there are the authentic venues selling the real thing. Not that I want to harm the well doing of our ice cream vendors, but quality should always be a must for everyone.

Today I will mention my two favorite ice cream parlors offering the real stuff in the city, la creme de la creme. I prefer not to mention which is my second best.

Gelaaati! Di Marco at Carrer de la Llibreteria, 7 near Plaça Sant Jaume Metro Line 4 Yellow

In spite of being located in a well known touristic area, the Gothic quarter or Barri Gotic, this place manages to offer high quality, homemade ice cream in a way that is really appealing to the eye and the stomach. The staff is efficient and friendly and always dressed up for the occasion.

DelaCrem at Carrer d'Enric Granados, 15

In this case, we are talking about a shop in a very quiet street, not too frequented by tourists, that in spite of the small space could be a winner in any prestigious list of ice cream specialists. DelaCrem has a terrace that in summer really makes a difference. Offering less flavors than Gelaaati! Di Marco,  they are always original and offer extremely delicious ice creams. 

You would say I'm crazy because I am talking about ice cream in winter but with this global warming it really does not matter anymore.  

Here is a list of the best ice cream shops in Barcelona via @TimeOutBCN

Ice cream sticks

November 16, 2017

Mass Tourism in Barcelona and Catalan Crisis According to the Media

Mass Tourism in Barcelona

According to several sources, both local and international, tourism in Barcelona, Catalonia has dropped about 15 percent with respect to the same period last year during the referendum, the violent police repression crisis and the pacific demonstrations of Catalans.

It is evident that figures will not skyrocket in this situation but it must be stressed that this is low season so there is no place for pessimism.

Whoever reads newspaper headlines these days must be aware of one thing that is not perceived from outside this country, the media are always under controlled of certain political groups. After the events of the past days, there are different points of view to evaluate Catalan crisis. Some Catalans have declared a Republic and do not want to follow Spain and its constitution anymore, some other Catalans do believe in the Spanish constitution although they might back up the Republic. There are the ones that are against the Republic, the independence movement but feel more Catalan than Spanish or the ones that feel Spanish but Catalan at the same time. As you see, this is not easy to understand sometimes.

It is not strange then that the media take sides and are biased. Some leftist newspapers have blatantly drifted to more centrist positions or directly flirted with the conservative right. A few are only defending the constitutional rights of Spaniards and thus according to their opinion, of Catalans but there are many who have decided to sell their professional ethic in favor of higher interests who pay their wages.

So summing up, you will hear the word crisis too often, you will hear that Catalan stability is worsening and that economy is breaking up in pieces. Bearing all this in mind, knowing all the pros and cons, I think you are prepared to judge what is really happening in Catalonia and Spain.

Do not be afraid of coming to Barcelona just because of a bunch of headlines written by manipulated newspapers.

October 13, 2017

Passeig de Colom and Moll de la Fusta: The New Waterfront of Barcelona

Passeig de Colom, Barcelona

Moll de la Fusta, Barcelona

Old picture of Moll de la Fusta, Barcelona

If you take a look at the old image you will have a better idea of what the present heavy traffic road occupies in space from the sea up to the buildings in the back. Next to the buildings, we have the view portrayed in the first picture, that is, Passeig de Colom. In the middle of the palm trees you have the highway on the left of the second picture and finally on what is to the sea side of the palm trees you have Moll de la Fusta.

Moll de Bosch i Alsina aka Moll de la Fusta is named after the activities held in this place, the storage and stowing of wood, the very place where the Roman port of Barcino used to be.

As you can assume, the fact that the wood industry among other port activities occupied this side of the city, made Barcelona turn its back on the sea.

It was not until 1982, when the Port authorities yielded the area to the city to build communication infrastructures and 1987 when the Olympics 92 project started, that access to the sea was recovered, something that was bound to alter life in the famous Mediterranean metropolis.

Nowadays, Moll de la Fusta is the stage of great part of the outdoor cultural events in Barcelona as you can see on the right of the second picture, and it is most of all, a beautiful promenade next to the marina, full of artistic samples like
the sculpture "Face of Barcelona", the work of the graphic artist and sculptor Roy Lichtenstein, the greatest exponent of American pop art, just to mention an example.
On the other side of the Moll (docks or pier) we can see the Maremagnum Shopping Center and the Rambla de Mar with its drawbridge, which are also part of this change of perspective that took place along Barcelona's new waterfront.

September 25, 2017

Polychrome Ceramic Work Detail at Casa Comalat by Lluis Bru i Salelles

Polychrome Ceramic Work at Casa Comalat Balcony, Barcelona

This is a detail of the outstanding polychrome ceramic work by Lluís Bru i Salelles (1868 - 1952), one of the most important modernist mosaic artists in Barcelona ever. 

Salelles was commissioned by Domenech i Montaner several times. These were his early works that date back to 1900 in his workshop at carrer Enric Granados. 

In 1904 he travels to Venice to learn mosaic techniques that were to influence his prolific catalog. 

The artist was ever present in the vast majority of modernist projects of the beginnings of XXth century and can be admired not only in Casa Comalat balconies and its roof parapet but also in Casa Lleo Morera, Institut Pere Mata, Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de la Musica Catalana. 

For such admired masterpieces he was awarded the medal of Barcelona International Exhibition of Art in 1911 and the gold medal of the Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925.

September 21, 2017

10 of the Best Modernist Architectural Buildings in Barcelona That Will Conquer Your Heart

By the end of XIX and beginnings of XX century, a new artistic movement spread throughout Europe that broke with the past and gave priority to craftsmanship and nature motifs over the rigid hierarchical structure of academic art.

Such movement was called different names: Art nouveau, Jugendstil, modern style, stile Liberty and Sezessionstil. In Barcelona, it is known as Modernism.

Barcelona's modernisme, as such is its name in Catalan, drank from the industrial revolution, from the well being of a powerful bourgeoisie, of the new great men, that set eyes in progress, and new ways of expression, of renovation.

Modernism was about to be seen everywhere, from a pharmacy to a street lamp, but it really started in the houses of the rich, those that made their fortunes in the flourishing textile industry or in Cuba, just to mention some examples, those that move from inside the city walls to live in the Eixample, that set of perfect squares or islands, part of the housing project by Ildefons Cerda. 

Many artists participated in this ordeal of creativity, but a group of gifted architects took the leading part in giving birth to such magnificent cultural and historical legacy. 

Today I would like to give you a succinct list of their major works of art. By choosing just some of them, I will certainly be unfair with the rest. 

Here are 10 of the best modernist buildings that you must see in Barcelona:

1 - Park Güell by Antoni Gaudi: The Futuristic Garden

Park Guell House
Park Guell
A new century was about to start, the influence of 1888 Universal Exhibition was still present and the city was expanding fast in the wake of Ildefons Cerda's ambitious plan.

Right before 1900, Eusebi Güell, Catalan industrial and politician, who made his fortune in the textile sector, entrusted his friend Gaudi with the design of a housing project that would accommodate well known families in a estate up in the neighboring hills around Barcelona. 

From each of the projected 60 plots, happy owners were going to enjoy a privileged view of the sea and the city in a complex full of religious symbols and in harmony with Catalan traditions.

The ambitious dream never really fructified. In 1914 Count Güell abandoned his project. In 1922, four years after his death, the city town hall buys the property to his heirs and by 1926 it is inaugurated as a beautiful park and garden.


  24, 92  Parc Güell,  116 Olot / Marianao,
  24, 32, H6 CAP Larrard

Read more about Park Güell

2 - Palau de la Musica Catalana by Domenech i Montaner,  the Modernista Concert Hall


Palau de la Musica
Palau de la Musica
Being second does not mean Palau de la Musica is my second best! In my opinion this is one the most beautiful. In fact, this is only a recommendation of my best ten modernista buildings.

When you approach the Palau (palace), the first thing you notice is that this is too much of an architectural marvel for the streets that surround it and that it is difficult to frame a decent picture due to short distance you have to shoot.

But why did Lluis Domenech i Montaner designed and built this? What was the purpose of a concert hall here?

Well, we have to thank, the board of directors of the Orfeó Català choral society, presided by Joaquim Cabot, a renown jeweler. They bought a small plot of irregular shape at Sant Pere quarter and assigned Montaner with the project. Orfeó Català, founded by Lluís Millet and Amadeu Vives and inspired by the choral works of Catalan composer Josep Anselm Clavé, definitely needed a building after a series of concerts in the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition and the growing success of their choir and institution.

The construction lasted only three years!

From 1905 to 1908, and not without difficulties, Montaner, managed to give fantastic solutions to the space and illumination problems inherent to the place.

Did you know that Palau de la Musica's first stone was laid on Sant Jordi's day or that in 1920s, some architects thought of demolishing the building for being too extravagant?

Maybe it was, but if the quest of a new identity by the local bourgeoisie and its explosion of creativity, brought a concert hall like this, then we are very lucky to inherit it and we embrace it in awe.

Visualize a stained glass skylight that weighs a metric ton where you can see angels singing around the sun in the shape of an inverted bell hanging over your head, while you watch your favorite concert performed in a stage full of muses and Wagnerian valkyries.

Look, I would be here depicting for hours what your imagination cannot recreate without watching this beauty yourselves.

Maybe this incredible Palau de la Musica Catalana VR gives you an idea.

Or even better, come to Barcelona and plan your Palau de la Musica visit online or directly at the box office.


   V15, V17, 45    Via Laeitana
   39, 42, 55, H16 Plaça Urquinaona.

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3 - Casa Mila or La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudi


Casa Mila

The last civil work of Gaudi before completely getting absorbed by his famous cathedral was La Pedrera or Casa Mila, a modernist building that raised a lot of controversy in local newspapers by the time it was finished in 1910.

Pere Mila, who by the way owned La Monumental bull ring, was one of those prosperous businessmen craving for a splendorous house in Passeig de Gracia that represented his social status within the wealthy families of the buoyant Catalan bourgeoisie. He commissioned Antoni Gaudi with the project. By that time, the architect was busy with the restoring works in Casa Batllo. Mila's father and the promoter at the Batllo house, were partners.

Gaudi took too many liberties that displeased Mila and his promoters and although this was meant to be the culmination of his work besides Sagrada Familia, he had to deal with complaints about his expenditures and his way too daring architectural eccentricities.

La Pedrera, catalan word for quarry. was the final popular nickname given to the house inspired in the many blocks of cut stone visible on the façade. A façade whose undulated horizontal lines create the illusion of an animated living organism.


Barcelona Bus
  Lines: 7, 22, 24, 39, V15

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 4 - Casa Batlló


Casa Batllo
Josep Batlló, yet another wealthy entrepreneur that wanted to live in the most renown street in L'Eixample de Barcelona and in Ildefons Cerda's plan, bought in 1903 a building that dated from 1877 by architect Emily Sala Cortès, one of Gaudi's teachers at the school of architecture.

By the times Batlló acquired the house, Casa Amatller was way to sumptuous to compete and it happened to be next door, so he put his faith in a very popular artist at that moment, Antoni Gaudi.

Instead of demolishing the rather sober building as suggested by the owner, the architect carried out an extraordinary restoration that was audacious and functional at the same time. The result was brutally attractive and efficient, for generations to admire.

              Passeig de Gracia

Barcelona Bus
  Lines: H10, V15, 7, 22 y 24.
Barcelona Trains
 Renfe: Passeig de Gracia
 FGC:  Provença 

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5 - Casa Amatller


Stain Glass Casa Amatller
It is not strange that the house of a chocolatier  like Antoni Amatller i Costa, looks like a chocolate tablet.
This third generation businessman carried on with the traditional manufacturing of the Amatller family founded in 1797, by opening in 1878, a modern brand new chocolate factory with the latest production techniques acquired during his travels in Europe.

The capital amassed  from then on, allowed Mr. Amatller to become an art collector, a prestigious photographer and painter. He was  a visionary that invested in publicity for his products using art nouveau illustrations by the best artists of his times. So well he did that he entered the Passeig de Gracia elite of  proud owners of ostentatious modernista houses.

The house that  we see nowadays is in fact the exquisite refurbishing that Josep Puig i Cadafalch made over an 1875 original building which was rather austere. The famous architect, who inspired most of his followers with this masterpiece, added gothic details to a ridged façade, to this crow-stepped gable with clear Flemish or Nordic architecture influence. 

Casa Amatller inaugurated in 1900 broke with the predominant architectural concepts of Passeig de Gracia and paved the way for new modernist ideas in the years to come. 

The first famous construction of the block was about to start a rivalry of patrons over who was to build the most magnificent house. This fight for commissioning the most opulent casa modernista in one specific block of Passeig de Gracia eventually created L'Illa de la Discòrdia or The Block of Discord.

                Passeig de Gracia

Barcelona Bus
  Lines: H10, V15, 7, 22 y 24.
Barcelona Trains
 Renfe: Passeig de Gracia
 FGC:  Provença 

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6 - Casa Lleo i Morera


Casa Lleo i Morera
Declared by the Town Hall, best artistic building of the year in 1905,  Casa Lleo i Morera constitutes an efficient solution by Lluis Domenech i Montaner on the limitations of an irregular estate and an asymmetric façade.

On the corner of Passeig de Gracia and Consell de Cent, you come across one of the most beautiful modernista houses that are part of the Illa de la Discordia or Block of the Discord.

This was also a restoration and a very good one, of course. Domenech i Montaner was one the most popular architects of the moment. Remember that he also built Hospital de Sant Pau, Palau de la Musica Catalana and Casa Fuster among other outstanding works.

In this case, the original building came to the hands of their owners by inheritance. Francesca Morera i Ortiz got it from an uncle that had become rich in America. The presence of nearby Casa Amatller pushed Mrs. Morera to decide that she was not second to none, so in the wake of many other rich members of Catalan bourgeoisie, she summoned Montaner and put him in charge of the renovation.

It happened that the illustrious lady did not survive the house inauguration by one year.

Do not miss this virtual tour of Casa Lleo i Morera!

Only the first floor is open to the public by guided tour only.

                 Passeig de Gracia

Barcelona Bus
  Lines: H10, V15, 7, 22 y 24.
Barcelona Trains
 Renfe: Passeig de Gracia
 FGC:  Provença 

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7 - Palau del Baro de Quadras


Palau Baro de Quadras
The Palau (palace) del Baro de Quadras is yet another good sample of those grandiloquent dreams of the bourgeoisie and the nobility at the beginnings of the XX century.

The aftermath of the industrial revolution, the 1888 Universal Exhibition in Barcelona, the accruing of wealth coming from the textile industry or the fortunes made in Cuba by the indianos, (Spanish emigrants in America) created a breeding ground for this eagerness to excel by spending every dime in artistic expression and where better than your own house to start with. In 1906, Manuel Quadras i Prim, fulfilled such a dream.

The Baron, son of a rich textile businessman, commissioned Josep Puig i Cadafalch to restore a house in Diagonal avenue, one of the main streets conceived by the urban planner Ildefons Cerdà. The estate had been inherited from his father and needed to be refurbished in accordance with the new noble status of his owner.

Cadafalch, who had worked for Quadras in the past, knew well what he had to do to express the desires of his patron. As it happened that there were two façades, one facing Diagonal and the other carrer Roselló, and bearing in mind that the three upper levels were meant to be apartments for rent, the architect designed an opulent entrance of neo-plateresque style for the proprietor in the avenue and a back sober entrance on the other side for the tenants.

The balcony, featuring busts of medieval and Renaissance figures, floral adornments and heraldic symbols and the neo gothic staircase shown in the picture above are a must see.

More information here: Palau Baro de Quadras


Barcelona Bus
  Lines: 6, 33, 34, 39, H8, V17

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8 - Casa Comalat 


Casa Comalat
Unfortunately this precious gem of modernisme is not open to the public but that does not mean it is not worth noting down in your list of must see places for your art nouveau route in Barcelona.

Featuring also two completely different façades, Casa Comalat is beautiful enough to satisfy your curiosity and admiration for architecture.

Although the main side is on 442 Diagonal, it is the 316 Còrsega street façade, shown here in the picture that draws more attention. 

Built between 1906 and 1911 the house is named after his owner Mr. Comalat, a money lender that assigned the project to architect Salvador Valeri i Pupurull. Resources were not a problem so only the best were hired to participate in the construction. Lluis Bru i Salelles was the artisan in charge of the interior decoration and the polychrome ceramic work on the undulated balconies and the roof parapet. The stain glass windows came from the hands of renowned Rigalt i Granell company.

The projecting bay is made of several party walls created with a system of narrow roller-shuttered windows. This is one of the differentiating traits of Casa Comalat with the rest of casas modernistas, the shutters. Also the excess of ornaments makes it unique, as the building is part of late modernisme in Barcelona.

It is a pity that the interior of Casa Comalat is not open to the public.


Barcelona Bus
  Lines: 6, 33, 34, H8, V17

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9 - Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau


Hospital de Sant Pau
The biggest modernist complex on earth, declared world heritage by UNESCO in 1997, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was not always where it is now.

It all started with an obsolete gothic building in XV and a generous 'handout' from a Catalan living in Paris, an prosperous banker with investments in key industrial sectors. This generous savior was called, Pau Gil i Serra. 

Mr. Gil died in 1892, but his will had been written some years before. It stated that a hospital honoring Sant Pau (St. Paul) should be built in Barcelona using part of his capital but not in any odd place. There was only one condition, it had to be constructed in a place with maximum health conditions. Obviously the gothic building in old Raval quarter did not meet this requirement, so the Hospital accepted to leave the unhealthy premises, took the money from the inheritance and donated land of their own for the occasion.

The project was assigned to the acclaimed architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner who set to design 48 pavilions of which only 27 were finally built, all connected by underground corridors. Seen from above, the modernista compound resembles a giant cross, inclined 45 degrees with respect to the rest of buildings in the Eixample district. 

By the way, the recinte modernista of Sant Pau  is very near Sagrada Familia, so in my modest opinion, it would be better to combine them both instead of visiting Sagrada Familia and Park Güell the same day, as it seems to be the general trend with tourists lately. 

                Sant Pau

Barcelona Bus
 Lines:  Carrer Sant Quintí: 192
             Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret: H8, 19, 20, 45, 47, 50, 51, 117, N1, N4
             Carrer Cartagena: 192, N0

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10 - La Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Antoni Gaudi


Sagrada Familia
And last but in no way least, the cherry on top, the cream of the crop, the opus magnum of Modernism by the master of masters, architect Antoni Gaudi.

This everlasting but never ending project  that Gaudi could not finish as he died accidentally at the age of 73, three days after being hit by a tram, occupied 43 years of his lifetime. Time enough to leave behind a well defined plan to continue in his footsteps and to find the eternal light at the end of his long visionary tunnel. In fact, the basilica is in the final stages of construction and it is estimated to be ready by year 2030.

It all started back in 1872, when Josep Maria Bocabella, a very religious man and librarian, had returned from his trip in Italy and decided that the city needed to devote a temple to La Sagrada Familia. After buying some property in L'Eixample of Cerda, he commissioned architect Francisco de Paula del Villar to work on his idea. There were discrepancies between Villar and Martorell, who was Bocabella's advisor. The result: a young Gaudi is given the new assignment which he turned into the temple of perfection.

The result of his genius, the legacy of a one and only man was about to become a daunting jewel of architecture that should undoubtedly be considered part of the new wonders of the modern world. 

                Sagrada Familia

Barcelona Bus
  Lines:  Mallorca / Marina: 19, 33, 34, 50, 51, H10

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The purpose of this post is to open your eyes and your heart to the beauty of an art movement called modernisme that took  many liberties  to run away from a rigid past and taught us that there are no limits to human imagination. It would be great if you took a minute to share it. Thanks!
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