Barcelona Photoblog: architecture
Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts

August 08, 2023

Step Back in Time at Barcelona's Historic Hotel El Palace


Step into the Gilded Age of Travel at Barcelona's Hotel El Palace

Tucked away on a tree-lined boulevard in the heart of Barcelona lies a timeless grande dame that transports guests back to the glamorous era of early 20th century travel. Hotel El Palace Barcelona, originally opened in 1919 as an outpost of César Ritz's famed luxury hotel chain, oozes old world charm and elegance. From its ornate façade guarded by liveried doormen to the antique furnishings within, El Palace brings to life a bygone time when travel was still an exclusive pursuit of royalty and the cultural elite.

The Remarkable Rise of César Ritz

The storied history of El Palace Barcelona begins with legendary hotelier César Ritz, the pioneering founder of the international Ritz brand. Born in 1850 in the small Swiss village of Niederwald, Ritz was the thirteenth child in a family of farmers. His mother noticed young César’s intellect and insisted he receive an education, sending him to a Jesuit boarding school. There he learned German, French, and English—skills that would prove invaluable.

At 15, Ritz became an apprentice waiter at a hotel in Brig, Switzerland. But he was dismissed after a few months, deemed to lack faculties for hospitality. After a period of uncertainty, ambitious Ritz left for Paris in 1867 to seek his fortune. The bustling city was hosting the Universal Exposition, creating many hospitality jobs. Though starting as a waiter apprentice again, Ritz quickly moved up, honing his skills at top restaurants like Voisin.

Ritz exhibited exceptional talent for remembering guests’ names and preferences. His amiable personality also attracted important contacts like the Prince of Wales. But Ritz’s budding career was interrupted by the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. When Voisin closed due to scarce supplies, Ritz returned to Switzerland. In 1873 he went to Vienna for another Universal Exposition and met European royalty while working at a fine restaurant there.

For the next decade, Ritz spent winters serving elite clientele on the French Riviera and summers in the Swiss Alps. In 1889, the Savoy Hotel in London recruited Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier to manage their new luxury property. During his decade at the Savoy, Ritz pioneered innovations like in-room bathrooms and introduced standards of service and cuisine never before seen in hotels.

But Ritz dreamed of launching his own luxury hotel. In 1898, he opened the esteemed Hôtel Ritz Paris. Its elegantly appointed rooms and refined dining attracted royalty, business magnates, and creatives. The terms “ritzy” and “puttin’ on the Ritz” stem from this gilded era.

After conquering Paris, London and Madrid, Ritz, who at the beginning was reluctant to build in Barcelona, was advised by Francesc Cambó, a local politician and intellectual, on the need of building yet another magnificent first-class hotel, this time in Barcelona considering pending events like the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. No expense was spared to create Ritz's vision of a palatial urban oasis. When Hotel Ritz Barcelona opened in 1919, it immediately became the city's premier luxury destination.

Although Ritz managed to expand his holdings globally he finally had to pass his empire to his heirs and retire to Switzerland due to declining health. When he died in 1918, César Ritz was remembered as the founder of modern luxury hospitality.

A Storied Past Through War and Peace

In its early years, El Palace cemented its status as the place to see and be seen in Barcelona. Well-heeled travelers arriving on luxurious cruise ships docked nearby eagerly made their way to the hotel's elegant spaces. Over the decades, famous guests have ranged from Spanish royalty like King Alfonso XIII to luminaries like Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dalí.

The sprawling Ritz also became a cultural hub for Barcelona's high society. In the 1920s, its ballrooms hosted splendid masquerade galas, concert performances and art shows that attracted the city's creatives and socialites. The hotel's bar served as a lively spot where intellectual figures like Federico García Lorca and José Ortega y Gasset convened for cultural lectures, organized by the prominent women Isabel Llorach and Francesc Cambó.

But after the boom of the 1920s, troubling times loomed with the Spanish Civil War's outbreak in 1936. During the conflict, El Palace became a refuge for prominent families seeking shelter. Despite the war's chaos, the hotel maintained an aura of civility and calm. The tireless staff provided any comfort or service required, even sleeping onsite overnight when commuting was dangerous.

When war erupted, the hotel transformed into a worker-run cafeteria under the CNT and UGT unions, providing vital meals for Barcelona's hungry population. After the war, the grande dame emerged physically unscathed. But isolation under Franco's regime affected its glittering clientele. However, the hotel continued operating with world-class service and dignity.

Entrance Hotel El Palace 1919 Old Ritz

The Grande Dame Regains Her Luster

By the 1950s, Barcelona had begun opening up to the world again. With major events at the city's expo grounds, El Palace found itself welcoming international guests once more. A renaissance during the 1960s-70s won the hotel global acclaim and designation as a Leading Hotel of the World for its refined amenities.

In 2019, extensive renovations prepared El Palace for its next 100 years by sensitively restoring original details while incorporating modern comforts and conveniences. From its elegant facade to the restored interior design, the hotel brings Barcelona's gilded early 20th century era back to life. The César Ritz spirit continues through the staff's genuinely warm hospitality.

Famous Guests Over the Decades

El Palace’s premier location and accommodations have attracted many celebrity guests. Salvador Dalí repeatedly stayed in his favorite luxury suite during sojourns in Catalonia, once famously bringing up a taxidermy horse as a gift for his wife Gala, to the astonishment of hotel staff.

Retired bandleader Xavier Cugat, who popularized mambo music in 1940s Hollywood, spent his later years living at El Palace, filling its ballrooms with lively tunes in the 1970s and 80s. In 1987, Freddie Mercury met opera singer Montserrat Caballé at the hotel's bar, catalyzing their creative collaboration on the song "Barcelona" for the 1992 Olympic Games.

Many other luminaries have repeatedly made El Palace their home away from home when visiting Barcelona over the decades, including a diverse array of Hollywood actors, opera singers, rock stars, bullfighters, famous painters, directors, fashion designers, irreplaceable writers, distinguished members of high society from nobility to heads of state, from illustrious politicians to Arab sheiks, from Masons to Nazis, from Republicans to Franco's troops. The list is so extensive that it makes no sense trying to include them all here.

To celebrate the hotel's 2019 centennial, El Palace unveiled a photo exhibition with images of its glamorous past events and famous faces. The hotel's prestigious history and restored elegant spaces continue to transport guests back to Barcelona's golden era of luxury travel today.

Barcelona's Leading Luxury Destination Through the Years

In many ways, the history of El Palace mirrors that of Barcelona itself. The hotel was the city's premier luxury destination from the moment its doors opened in 1919, attracting affluent travelers and hosting high society events. In the carefree 1920s, its ballrooms and restaurants were the epicenter of Barcelona's buzzing cultural scene. El Palace was witness to pivotal historic moments like the 1929 World's Fair and the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

During the economically depressed postwar years, the hotel weathered challenges but continued as an oasis of refinement. By the 1960s, a rebirth of Barcelona's cosmopolitan spirit coincided with El Palace's renewed golden era. The city became an international travel hotspot once again, and the hotel its glittering social hub. The 1992 Summer Olympics spotlighted Barcelona on the world stage, drawing renewed interest in its Belle Epoque splendor.

Today, extensive restoration work ensures El Palace remains Barcelona's most illustrious luxury hotel. Its timeless elegance comes alive in the ornate facade, the crystal chandeliers glittering in palatial event spaces, the frescoed ceilings and marble floors.

For over a century, Hotel El Palace Barcelona has maintained its stature as the crown jewel of Catalan hospitality. It continues César Ritz's legacy as the pinnacle of discreet luxury experiences, attracting discerning travelers today as it did Barcelona's elite in its 1920s heyday. A fascinating living link to the city's past remains vibrantly alive within El Palace's historic walls.

Restaurant-AMAR-by-Rafa-Zafra-michelin-star-at-Hotel-El-Palace-Barcelona-old Ritz

September 12, 2022

Sant Jordi Fountain Faucet at Barcelona Cathedral Cloister

La Font de Sant Jordi (Saint George Fountain), of which Barcelona Photoblog brings you this faucet detail, is one of the most renown fountains in the city as it is part of the impressive cloister at Barcelona Cathedral, perhaps the second most visited sacred place after Sagrada Familia. 

Although the gothic Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, built in 150 years, is appealing enough once you set foot on the main nave it wouldn't be that remarkable without its cloister, a well-balanced quiet place, where light, water plants, magnolias, palm trees, geese and medieval fountains create that utmost joyous design that we now prefer to call feng shui. 

The fountain as such, crowned by a 1970 figure (by Emili Colom) of Sant Jordi on his horse on top of a mossy rock, was built under the supervision of architect Andreu Escuder in 1449. Nevertheless, the water was spouting here directly from the mountain of Collserola since 1356. 

This octogonal shaped architectural piece is no ordinary fountain, not only because of these beautiful faucets with intriguing faces that might as well represent archangels or demons on whose rump a small kid figure seems to be riding a bird or a horse (this can be the subject of rivers of ink for an unleashed imagination), but because since 1637 during every Corpus Christi Feast it is adorned with flowers and an empty egg that dances frantically on the water jet. Such tradition is known as L'ou com balla (previous post).

February 08, 2021

Sant Pau Hospital: A History of Fervent Passion and Anonymous Endeavor

Sant Pau hospital detail a history of passion and endeavor
Amidst the weird silence imposed by this pandemic disgrace, these stone marvels strike us as significant reminders of past religious devotion, of saints like Santa Eulalia (hanging up there on this side of the Modernist compound of Sant Pau Hospital - Cartagena street façade), of the fervent passion and disinterested endeavor of women and men who invested their lives in that of others not only to seek salvation but out of pure love for their peers.
Sant Pau Hospital
Thanks to the skillful hands of Catalan artists who set out to venerate these acts of faith against the wrath of merciless plagues, against the paradox of so much suffering cast upon the human race, we can remember them and resume this endless fight on the very places where we once perished.  

From here we, your descendants. shall honor your lives and rise on our knees to overcome this Covid mess, just like you banished your misfortune one day, in unison and anonymously for the sake of our fellow men.  

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!

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.


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, 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.

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.

Read more about Palau de la Musica

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

Read more about Casa Milà

 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 

Read more about Casa Batlló

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 

Read more about Casa Amatller

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 

Read more about Casa Lleó i Morera

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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