We are taking you on a tour of Modernism in Barcelona, an important period in which the Catalan elite used architecture and art to define a nationalist Catalan identity. The main star architects of Catalan Modernism are Antoni Gaudi and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, of whom we’re visiting buildings in this post. Their work is defined by the abundant use of curves instead of straight lines and dynamic shapes’ preference over static forms. Material use is often centered around ceramics, glass, and mosaic tiles decorated with florals or other motifs from nature. Often, sculptures or patterns refer back to important Catalan legends and history, further shaping this Catalan identity through design.
First up is Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudi on the Passeig de Gràcia, one of the main avenues leading to the Ramblas. The house was initially the work of one of Gaudi’s architecture professors, and Gaudi was hired by a prominent businessman to demolish and replace it with a new Gaudi building. Gaudi, however, convinced his client to do an extensive remodel, where the facade was entirely changed.
The next stop north on the Passeig de Gracia is La Pedrera, also known under its official name Casa Milá. La Pedrera is Catalan for stone quarry, a name the locals have given it due to the exteriors similarity to a quarry. This apartment complex was the last project undertaken by Gaudí before he devoted all his time to the Sagrada Familia.
The third stop of our Catalan Modernism tour is Park Guell, also from the hand of Antoni Gaudí. His work for this park is very playful and focuses on natural forms.
For the last stop on our tour, we’re visiting a design by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Palau de la Musica is a concert hall built in the Catalan Modernist style; however, it clearly appears more rational and built to its function. Dominated by the organ on stage, with a central skylight representing the sun, the hall is filled with natural light. It is a mystical concert hall, crowded with figures such as the muses surrounding the stage, Wagner’s Valkyries emerging from the ceiling, a bust of Anselm Clavé on one side and Beethoven on the other, in addition to hundreds of natural ornaments such as flowers, palm trees, fruit, vases and glass cases filled with jewelry.