meeting antoni gaudí: casa batlló

Sunday, June 30:  This morning, I get a late start.  I sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast on the patio (including sliced bananas drizzled with chocolate and a potato quiche) and work on my blog and check emails.  I’m going out today to take the blue line on Barcelona Bus Turista, which encompasses all the Gaudí attractions on the north side of the city.  Before I go, I’ve heard it’s best to get tickets online to avoid waiting in lines.  As I start to buy all the tickets online, I realize my debit card from the USA, the one that holds most of the money for my trip, expires today, June 30!!

Now, I used to be a banker for 12 years, and I know how to deal with money issues.  I took every precaution before coming here, including calling my banks, for both credit and debit cards, to inform them of my travel plans.  I made photocopies of all my cards with phone numbers to call in case a card is stolen.  I keep my Bank Muscat card in one place, by BB&T cards in another place, and my Barclay Card in yet another place.  I wear a money belt under my clothes with one card and most of my cash; my wallet contains only cash I need for the day and one card.  So you see I’m a very thorough person when it comes to money issues while traveling.

So how on earth did I overlook this expiration date on my card??

Lucky for me, I also have a debit card for Mike’s and my joint account, which I never use as we have been separated for so long.  I can luckily transfer money from my account to this joint account.  But now I have one less payment method if I lose a card.  Duh.  What a dunce.

Anyway, I use my card to buy tickets for Sagrada de Familia, Casa Batllo, and La Perdrera, all quite expensive!  Then I determine that I will get as much cash out of my account as I can today, while my card is still good.  As of tomorrow, it will be useless.

It isn’t until 11:00 that I finally make it out of the hotel.  I leave my neighborhood, L’Eixample, Barcelona’s 19th century answer to overcrowding in the medieval city (Lonely Planet Spain).  L’Eixample was inhabited from the start by the city’s middle classes and that remains broadly the case.  It’s home to many Modernista creations.

I head to Gracia, north of L’Eixample.  It has a Catalan feel with its narrow streets, small plazas and multitudes of bars and restaurants.   Casa Batlló, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, is in Gracia.  Luckily it’s not far from my hotel, just about 5 blocks, so I walk rather than take the bus.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Casa Batlló's facade and wavy windows
Casa Batlló’s facade and wavy windows
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló’s Modernist façade is sprinkled with bits of blue, mauve and green tiles, and graced with wave-shaped window frames and balconies.  It rises to an uneven blue-tiled roof with a solitary tower.  Inside the main salon, everything swirls; the ceiling is twisted like a snail around a sun-like lamp.  The doors and windows are waves of wood and colorful glass.  (Lonely Planet Spain).

doors and windows of waves and colorful glass
doors and windows of waves and colorful glass
looking out Casa Batlló's front window to the street
looking out Casa Batlló’s front window to the street
wavy door panels
wavy door panels
wavy doors
wavy doors
and wavy windows
and wavy windows

The patio of the house has some interesting mosaics.

on the patio
on the patio
close up of the undulating mosaics on the patio
close up of the undulating mosaics on the patio
wavy mosaics
wavy mosaics
close up of mosaics
close up of mosaics
close up of mosaics
close up of mosaics

I love the oval mosaic samples and the round photos of Gaudí’s work that make up the wall decor.

plates as wall decor
plates as wall decor
wall decor
wall decor

The central well of the house welcomes light into the interior.

the central well
the central well
the elevator in the central well
the elevator in the central well
wavy glass
wavy glass

The roof is covered with mosaic-covered chimney pots.

mosaic covered chimney pots
mosaic covered chimney pots
view of Barcelona rooftops from Casa Batllo
view of Barcelona rooftops from Casa Batllo

According to Casa Batlló’s website, the building is a key feature in modernist Barcelona’s architecture. It was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1904 and 1906, having been commissioned by the textile industrialist Josep Batlló.  The “Manzana de la Discordia”, or Block of Discord, is a series of buildings in Passeig de Gràcia.  Casa Batlló is only one in this collection of buildings by renowned architects.

mosaic-covered chimney pots
mosaic-covered chimney pots
mosaic-covered chimney pots on the roof
mosaic-covered chimney pots on the roof
mosaic-covered chimney pots
mosaic-covered chimney pots
The house that is today known as Casa Batlló was built between 1875 and 1877 by Emilio Salas Cortés, who, incidentally, was one of Gaudí’s teachers. It was a sober and classical building with a basement, a ground floor, four upper floors and a garden behind the house.

The building was bought by the textile businessman Josep Batlló and his wife in 1900. The original house was of no particular architectural interest; however, its location in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia, which was a very fashionable and prestigious area, made it a desirable dwelling. Being a distinguished family, they wanted to stand out from the crowd, and to do this they wished to build a spectacular house.

In order to realize this ambitious project, Josep Batlló decided to contact an architect who was different, who was an innovator. The one he selected was Antonio Gaudí. His initial orders were to knock down the original building and to build a new one from scratch. Gaudí, however, managed to convince Josep Batlló that this was not necessary, and that renovation would be sufficient. In November 1904, when Gaudí was 52 years old and at the height of his professional maturity, the planning application was submitted.

The building works were completed in 1906. Gaudí carried out a full refurbishment of the building using innovative techniques and with total creative freedom.  Gaudí modified the main facade and added the balconies and the main gallery. In the interior of the house, he transformed the main apartment, which was the Batlló family’s residence, expanded the central well to supply the entire building with light, and added new floors. He also crowned the house with what appears to be the spine of an animal.  The roof represents Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon.

the roof: St. George and the dragon
the roof: St. George and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
mosaics on Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
mosaics on Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon
Sant Jordi (St. George) and the dragon

In the same year the Barcelona City Council selected the house as a candidate for the 1906 award for the best building. In the end this prize went to another architect, probably because the same prize had recently been awarded to Gaudí for another house, Casa Calvet.

In 1934, Josep Batlló died.  In 1940, his wife, Amalia Godó, died. Following the death of the two parents, Casa Batlló passed to their children.

In 1970, the first refurbishment of Casa Batlló took place.  In 2002, as part of the International Year of Gaudí, Casa Batlló began a new line of business: cultural visits to the Noble Floor, the former dwelling of the Batlló family. For the first time, Casa Batlló opened its doors to the public, and the initiative was met with a wholly unanticipated success.  (Casa Batllo)

Later this afternoon, when the sun is brightly shining, I take another picture of Casa Batlló.  I adore this house!

Casa Batlló at a brighter time of day
Casa Batlló at a brighter time of day

8 thoughts on “meeting antoni gaudí: casa batlló

  1. I’ve just about made up my mind for Barcelona in November for my birthday, Cathy. I picked up a Dorking & Kinnersley guide in the library today and I’m hooked!🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s