One of Barcelona’s Must-see Sights you can´t miss!
Casa Batlló is located on the most important Avenue – the Passeig de Gràcia – in the city of Barcelona. Its construction can be linked back all the way to 1860 when the ambitious Cerdà Plan was put into motion in Barcelona in a bid to urbanize the city. This invited prominent aristocrats to set up residential buildings on the avenue, and a Batlló was one of such buildings. The original building was designed by Emilio Sala Cortés, one of Gaudi’s architecture teachers, in 1877.
Fun fact: at the moment there was still no electricity in Barcelona. Why do we tell about this? Because the way Gaudi thought about it later on and helped to improve the design.
In 1903 the house was bought by Josep Batlló I Casanovas, a prominent businessman and the owner of several textile factories in Barcelona.
After the purchase, the major idea proposed was to demolish the entire building to reconstruct it. Other architects would have followed this route – not Antoni Gaudi though. His brilliance came to light when he halted the demolition and, instead, worked with what he had and made a full reform of the initial concept. Starting with the facade and finishing with the interior of the patio, Gaudi transformed the old building into the Casa Batlló we see and appreciate today.
Similar to other magnificent residential homes built by renowned architects, the Casa Batlló was built in the part of Catalunya where the rise of the new bourgeoisie was prominent. This area is well known for having buildings by the four renowned modernista architects – Antoni Gaudi, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and Enric Sagnier. Because of the close proximity of their buildings, this area was known as “La Manzana de la Discordia” which means “The Apple of Discord”. Most of these projects were competing with each other for the City Hall Urban Awards given by the Barcelona City Council.
The whole fantasy that surrounds Casa Batlló has a perfect explanation: Gaudi was inspired by the legend of Sant Jordi, a brave knight who saved a princess that was to be devoured by a dragon.
The rooftop has the shape of the back of a dragon with colorful tiles beautifully arranged to form the scales. The front of the facade features some sculpted bony structures depicting the victims of the dragon. It is one of the reasons why it is nicknamed “the House of Bones” Looking at the windows, you will notice a mask-like bony structure all contributing to the legendary skeletal Art Nouveau masterpiece. It´s remarkable how something so bizarre can become a piece of modernist architecture and art!
Also, the building features a balcony that represents the princess and Gaudi’s famous four arms cross representing Saint Jordi´s sword. The exterior facade does capture your attention, but the interior captures your imagination with beautiful tiles and decorative elements. Gaudi also continued his fantasy in the interior by featuring other parts of the dragon such as the tail and the rib cage. He truly went big with the Saint Jordi fantasy.
Casa Batlló Nowadays:
Back in the ’50s, the house was no longer property of the Batlló family, it passed from different owners until the ’90s when it was purchased by the Bernat family – the current owners.
In 1995, Casa Batlló was opened to the public for events and in 2002, it was able to receive cultural visitors.
Since it is an important Barcelona tourist attraction center, and also for those generally interested in architecture, it was declared Unesco Heritage in 2005. Presently, it receives more than 1 million visitors every year.
In 2020/2021, Casa Batllò had an entire architectural renovation becoming the most impressive attraction in Barcelona nowadays. Also, it has a concert space at night which is remarkable.
To me, the House of Bones is one of the most beautiful sites in Barcelona.
Your curiosity can be satisfied with our extensive tour of the place. So what are you waiting for? Go and check it out!
I hope you´ve enjoyed this article as much as I did share with you what I´ve learned and what I´ve seen!
Goodbye for now.
… and see you in my next post!
Oh yeah, a little map to help you get there 😉