Welcome to our next installment of ‘Damn, Barcelona is Awesome!’
We are still hung up on all the awesome architecture. Barcelona is chock full of Gaudi and Gaudi-inspired creations as well as being home to an incredible amount of other art nouveau pieces. We went to Casa Battlo, Palau Guell and to Park Guell…all Gaudi. Plus we visited the incredible Palau de la Musica Catalana, not Gaudi, but still jaw-dropping.
Ready for an amatuer tour of Barcelona’s flowing architecture? Grab your sunnies…here we go!
Somehow, in addition to the Sagrada, Gaudi had time to design a number of other buildings around Barcelona. Casa Battlo was actually a massive home-remodel done in the early 1900’s. Locally it’s known as the ‘house of bones’ and it’s easy to see where it gets it’s nickname.
They offered a free audio tour which was really worth it! Made for such a nice fashion statement along with all the info we learned.
The house is centered around a “light well”. Being five stories and without much in the way of electricity when it was built, this was intended to let the sun reach the lower floors. Back in the day light wells were usually uninteresting and yucky – not really designed for viewing, just to let light in. Lots of houses tossed trash there! Not only did Gaudi make this area bright and airy, he actually changed the color of the tiles going down the center of the house to maximize light in the darkest parts of the home.
One of the first rooms we entered included bay windows over the street. Our cool audio tour device showed us a picture of where an altar used to be in this room. It was designed to be hidden or brought out, as needed. Seemed like every house we looked at had a chapel in it. The alter from this particular one is currently being refurbished and I think it’s going to be used in the Sagrada Familia.
Onward! Time to head outside to another of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Back in the late 1800’s, Count Guell was one of the super-rich. He would repeatedly commission Gaudi to design his homes and real estate ventures, including what would become Park Guell.
The Count’s original intent was to create a really cool housing development overlooking the city for Barcelona’s well-to-do, but that never quite took off. Only two houses were built and they were not even designed by Gaudi, although Gaudi and his family did end up living in one of them for a time while designing the terraces and monuments that throngs of people now come to see. The park is covered in mosaic monuments and is nothing less than a feast for the eyes!
One of the first collaborations between Guadi and Guell was this mansion for the Count and his family of 10 children. It looks so much different than all the other Gaudi houses we saw, I guess because it was so early in his career. Neat seeing Gaudi’s work in different locations to really learn how his tastes and design sense developed!
During our tour the organ was demonstrated for us. Yes, that’s right, the house had it’s own organ – and it sounded awesome!
PALAU de la MUSICA CATALANA
Finally, let’s work our way over to the Palau de la Musica Catalana, or just “The Palau”. This one’s not Gaudi, but it’s incredible all the same. It was designed by Montaner and is home to the “Orfeo Catala” (um, a choir). Essentially it’s a glass concert hall. You read that right, GLASS! It was built about a century ago by the people for the people. Apparently choir was really big about 100 years ago and Barcelona had oodles of amatuer choirs. All the factories had their own from among their workers. Can you imagine? Factory choirs! People wanted a spectacular place to perform so they raised money themselves and built the Palau! It continues to be used for all types of music: rock and roll, jazz, orchestra, voice. I’ve never seen anything like it!
Take a listen (only 38 seconds or so and gives a wonderful sense of the size of the glass roof):
Some of the other glass in the concert hall:
Came across this on one of the streets of Barcelona. Maybe it was by Chok, I really don’t remember, but with such tasty subject matter you know we had to include it.
That brings us to the end of our tour. Hope you enjoyed it! We truly fell in love with Gaudi and the Art Nouveau works we found around Barcelona. How about you?