Modernist route in Barcelona
Casa Calvet House. Barcelona
Casa Milà "La Pedrera" House. Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Barcelona
Casa Batlló House. Barcelona
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A stroll around Barcelona, the world capital of Modernism
Between the 19th and 20th centuries in the centre of Barcelona, the architects of the Catalan Modernist movement created a variety of buildings for the bourgeoisie of the period. It could even be said that the work and art of Puig i Cadafalch, Doménech i Montaner and the world-famous Antoni Gaudí was instrumental in Barcelona's transformation into the capital of the western Mediterranean that it is today.
This route, which can be done inside the day and is ideal for following either by bike or on foot, takes a tour of the Eixample quarter (known as the Ensanche in Castilian Spanish) in Barcelona. This is an urban planning project designed by the architect Ildefons Cerdà in the mid-19th century and which is in itself one of the symbols of the modern Catalan capital. Throughout its streets and avenues we'll find many of the most emblematic Modernist buildings in the city.
What better place to begin our stroll than in the Plaça de Catalunya square? This is the beating heart of the city and a traditional meeting point for its inhabitants and visitors. Very nearby, at number 48 Carrer de Casp, Antoni Gaudí built his first residential building for a bourgeois family of textile manufacturers: this is the house known as Casa Calvet. The symmetry, balance and order of its facade make it one of his more conservative works.
We continue on up the Passeig de Gràcia avenue . A little further on we'll see on our left what is known as the “Apple of Discord” (a play on words: in Spanish, "apple" is the same word as for "city block"), a stretch of the avenue which contains almost side by side (numbers 35, 41 and 43) three buildings designed by the three towering figures of Catalan Modernism: the Casa Lleó Morera, by Doménech i Montaner; the Casa Amatller, by Puig i Cadafalch; and the Casa Batlló, by Gaudí.
On the following corner on our left, at number 225, Carrer d'Aragón, we see the old building of the offices of the publishing house Montaner i Simó (Doménech i Montaner), today the site of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation.
If we continue along the Passeig de Gràcia, a few steps further on, at number 66, we come to the Casa Viuda Marfà (by Manuel Comas), and on the corner with Carrer de Provença, the most emblematic façade in all Barcelona: the Casa Milà,, also known as La Pedrera, and one of Antoni Gaudí's most famous buildings. It is without doubt the most visited building on the Passeig de Gràcia.
A little further on we come to the avenue known as the Diagonal, where we find a cluster of several interesting buildings: the houses of Comalat (Diagonal, 442; the work of Salvador Valeri) and Fuster (Passeig de Gràcia, 132; by Doménech i Montaner), and three works by Puig i Cadafalch: the Casa Serra (Rambla de Catalunya, 126), the Palace of El Baró de Quadras and the Casa Terrades (or ‘Casa de les Punxes’ – house of spikes), both of which give on to the Diagonal avenue (numbers 373 and 416-420, respectively).
We continue along the Diagonal avenue until we reach Carrer de Roger de Llúria which we take until we reach number 291 on the Carrer de Mallorca (Casa Thomas, Doménech i Montaner), and then continue on to Carrer de Valencia number 339 (Casa Llopis-Bofill, by Antoni Maria Gallissà, with decoration by Jujol).
We return to the Diagonal and continue until we come to the avenue known as the Passeig de Sant Joan , where we walk along until number 108, the site of the Casa Macaya (Puig i Cadafalch). Only two blocks away we can see the imposing towers of the basilica of La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí's masterpiece and the magnum opus of the Modernist movement, as well as one of the most visited monuments in all Europe.
The route continues along Avinguda de Gaudí, with its Modernist streetlights, until the complex of buildings and gardens at the Hospital of La Santa Creu y de Sant Pau, by Doménech i Montaner, and the last of the Modernist buildings to be seen around the Eixample district.
We can end our route with a visit to other Modernist buildings in the city of Barcelona located outside the Eixample neighbourhood. For example, it is well worth taking a look at the Palau de la Música Catalana auditorium, a key work by Doménech i Montaner, which was restored and refurbished under the supervision of Óscar Tusquets.
Another interesting visit is to the old Casaramona factory by Puig i Cadafalch on the mountain of Montjuïc, today converted into the CaixaForum exhibition centre; and the Casa Martí, also by Puig i Cadafalch, located at number 3 Carrer de Montsió in the Gothic quarter. Its basement is still home to the legendary cavern of Els Quatre Gats, a meeting point for the artists and intellectuals of the time.