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Casa Batlló, Barcelona
Casa Batlló history
The wonderfully strange house that is Casa Batlló was originally built between year 1875 and 1877. In the early 20th century, the house was bought by the rich industrialist Josep Batlló who intended to tear down the old house and build a new one on the site. He contacted Antonio Gaudi who accepted the job of designing this new structure. Gaudi did however convince Batlló to keep the old structure and simply remodel it instead of tearing it down.
Between the years 1904 and 1906, Gaudi completely remodeled the interior, created a new façade and a new roof, while also adding extra height to the building. The project was strongly discussed by the local government, as many elements of the design completely broke away from the Barcelonan building norms and standards.
Fortunately, the project was allowed to be completed. Even though it is based on a previous structure, Gaudi basically constructed a whole new building. While Gaudi is the man behind the building and its design, he still had help from experts within the fields of carpeting, ceramics and iron works to complete the structure. The name “Casa Batlló” simply means “The house of Batlló”, based on its founder.
Why visit Casa Batlló ?
To no surprise, the Casa Batlló is most known for its outstanding façade. Casa Batlló is generally considered to have one of the most creative and brilliant urban façades in the world. The façade is, like everything Gaudi created, almost without any straight lines and a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture.
The house of Bones
The lower levels are astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. These large windows have given the building one of its nicknames, the “House of Yawns”.
By looking above the ground floor, at the large oval windows, visitors can see that the pillars look very similar to bones. This has, together with the balconies which also looks like pieces from a skeleton, given the house its other nickname; the “House of Bones”.
Much of the upper façade is decorated with a beautiful Catalan mosaic made of glazed ceramic tiles, which makes the building look like something taken from a fairy tale. The glazed ceramic tiling is a typical trademark of Antonio Gaudi.
The roof further adds to the surrealistic feeling one get from looking at the house. Visitors getting a closer look at the roof will see that it is arched and that the scaly tiling very much resembles the back of a dragon or dinosaur.
A common theory about Casa Batlló is that it pays tribute to the legend of the Catalonian patron saint, Saint George, and his battle with the dragon. The spire like feature on the left side of the roof would then represent “Ascalon”, the sword of Saint George, which has been plunged into the back of the dragon. The bone-like features of the façade would represent the bones of all of the dragon’s victims or the bones from the dragon itself.
The world of Gaudi
Casa Batlló is not all about its exterior. There is of course a ton of other things to see on the inside as well. People say it’s the façade that catches ones attention - but it is the interior that captures ones imagination. Visitors to the inside of Casa Batlló can find undulating walls, beautiful tile and many other decorative elements.
A visit to the inside is highly recommended for anyone interested in architecture in general and Antonio Gaudi in particular, as it will provide a deeper understanding of the famous architect and his intentions. It is also a fantastic chance to escape and become lost in one of Gaudi’s dreamlands.
The Casa Batlló is today one of Barcelona’s most famous buildings and it can be found on the UNESCO World Heritage List; a testament to the uniqueness of this enchanting building.
In good company
Casa Batlló can be found on the street “Mançana de la Discordia”. On this street stand three fashionable buildings, made by three important modernist architects. While Casa Batlló is the most famous one, the others are still worth mentioning. On one side of Casa Balló stands Casa Amatller, designed by Josep Puig. Further down the same street, in the corner, stands Casa Lléo Morera, designed by Lluis Domènech.
The name “Mançana de la Discordia” means “Apple of Discord”. The name refers to Greek mythology where an apple, given by the goddess Eris “to the fairest”, lead to a dispute between three goddesses, eventually leading to the Trojan War. In this case it of course refers to the rivalry of three architects and their buildings, instead of the goddesses and luckily it hasn’t led to any war.
Casa Batlló location
Casa Batlló is located in central Barcelona, in eastern Spain. The building can be found on the famous street “Mançana de la Discordia”. For the exact location of Casa Batlló, check out the location map to the right.
Casa Batlló resources
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our Spain map.
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