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Barcelona Architecture

Barcelona is nothing if not a city of daring and mesmerizing architecture. This page presents the following famous architectural gems that the city boasts of. Many of the short descriptions accompanying the individual photos were taken and adapted from the marvellous book National Geographic Traveller Barcelona written by Damien Simonis. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anybody travelling to Barcelona.

Arc de Triomf: Built by Josep Vilaseca (1848-1910) for the hastily prepared Universal Exhibition of 1888. Vilaseca made this arch of brick using inspiration from the past Islamic traditions of Spain. A number of Catalan sculptors decorated the arch.

Casa Amatller: Located in the area Manzana de la Discordia (Block of Discord), this building was completed in 1900 by one of the greatest names of Modernisme, Puig i Cadafalch. It is located next door to Casa Battlo, a creation of Gaudi. Casa Amatller is one of the most playful creations of Cadafalch. Inspired by religious and Catalan Gothic influences.

Casa Batllo: Located in the area Manzana de la Discordia (Block of Discord), this building was completed in 1906 by Antonin Gaudi. He preserved the original structure of the building (1877) but changed the interior and exterior designs completely. As characteristic of him, Gaudi avoided straight lines and right angles. The facade has a trencadis coat and the stone and glasswork is very beautiful. The balconies of this building appear like carnival masks. The six-story building is capped by perhaps the strangest roof of all Barcelona, its tiles look like the scales of a dragon.

Casa Cabot: Josep Vilaseca designed this building (and the adjacent building). They were his first fully modernista construction. Notice the doorway with tympanum oriental flavor and dense floral arrangement.

Casa Lleo Morera : Casa Calvet: Gaudi completed this building, located on Carrer de Casp, in 1899. The wrought iron balconies and the wavy crestline at the top gives it a baroque flavor.

Casa de les Punxes: Built by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, the building is topped by fanciful battlements. It has a pleasent appearence due to the mixed shapes in its windows and bulging balconies.

Arc de Triomf: One of the best known works of Puigi i Cadafalch, named for the conical points that crown the six towers.

La Pedrera (Casa Mila): "If I had designed Casa Mila I wouldn't sleep well at night", said one of Gaudi's colleagues. The building with its strange undulating facade has come to known as La Pedrera (Stone Quarry). To build Casa Mila the entire block was completely bulldozed in 1906 by the wealthy businessman Pedro Mila i Camps, who once remarked that he was less likely to run out of cash for the costly project than of patience for the time it was taking to finish (finally finished in 1910). Gaudi closely directed every element of construction and decoration and was profoundly disappointed when the owner rejected the crowning glory, which was to be a massive bronze sculptural group depicting the Virgin of the Rosary flanked by archangles Gabriel and Michael. The gray stone used to create the facae was from the Garraf and Penedes areas.

Palau de la Musica Catalana: Built between 1905 and 1908 by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, this building has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Representing a high point of the modernista architecture, itdemostrates that Gaudi had no monopoly on fanciful architecture. Commissioned by the Orfeo Catala choral society, the building symbolized a reawakening in Catalan nationalism. From the outside the building is almost too rich in detail and is difficult to appreciate in its cramped location. Indeed many critical voices opined it was so gaudy that only the wrecking ball could remedy the situation. Thankfully, no one paid any heed. The climax of the building is in the sculpture that bulges from the corner, as if leaning over a balcony. It is a modernista allegory for popular song: a nymph surrounded by the representative of the people.

Parc Guell: Eusebi Guell, and industrialist who owned the land, currently called Parc Guell, planned to create a garden city that would host some 60 houses for the well to do. Guell commissioned Gaudi, who set about to work in 1900 with characteristic gusto, employing several outstanding contemporaries (Josep Maria Jujol, in particular) to help him. In the ensuing 14 years he managed to trace out the park and its installations. However, only two houses were built before interest in the idea waned, leaving people of Barcelona with a bizarrely beautiful park in which to stroll and bask in glorious views across the city to the Mediterranan Sea. The entire architecture of the park follows Gaudi's absolute insistense on the absence of straight lines. Sparkling ceramic benches in the top platform are designed by Jujol and look like one long twisting serpent.


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Last Revised August 1, 2009

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