Exploring different styles of architecture is a great way to embrace new cultures. The detailed colors and shapes of various buildings provide a creative and aesthetic experience unique to that city or country. If there is one architectural style that best deﬁnes Barcelona then it is Modernista. If there is one area that shows it off the most then it is L’Eixample (which translates as the ‘widening’ or ‘extension’ in Catalan). Finally, if there is one architect whose work best expresses the ideology of this style then it is Antoni Gaudí.
L’Eixample is a network of streets which cover an area around the old city. It was here that Ildefons Cerdà oversaw a project of renovation in the late 19th century. Octagonal blocks were created in a grid formation with wide avenues and natural sunlight acting as main features. This was not just a new wave of architecture, there were plenty of them in Europe at the end of the 19th century, but this was also a unique expression of Catalan identity.
Within L’Eixample you’ll ﬁnd Illa de la Discòrdia, the sense of discord being the visual clash between the buildings. There are three notable Modernista buildings on this block, the lesser-known two are Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s Casa Lleó Morera and Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller. However, the third building is the one that receives the most acclaim – Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.
Casa Batlló’s architecture style is one of Gaudí’s many masterpieces which represent the epitome of Catalán design. The house itself belonged to a local businessman who sought, and found in Gaudí, a local artist who could transform the residence into something unique. Impressively illuminated at night, the house is affectionately known by locals as the casa dels ossos (House of bones) as well as the casa del drach (House of the dragon). The Casa Batlló architecture style features an irregular blend of mauve, green, and blue fragmented tiles topped by a peculiar azure chimney-ﬁlled roof. Although it is now over a century old, Casa Batlló has only been open to the public since 2002 in honor of the International Year of Gaudí. Since its opening, the building has become a must-see, making it onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and winning the Europa Nostra prize for its conservation.
The extraordinary Casa Batlló facade, which resembles a calm sea, invites you into a world of astonishment. Built in 1904-06, the dreamlike design was certainly far ahead of its time and while there is plenty in the facade to keep the eye and mind occupied, it is only upon entering that the full effect is realized. The main area, known as the Noble ﬂoor, covers more than 700 square meters and is reached through a private entrance hall with tortoise shell-shaped skylights and vaulted walls. The roof terrace features the back of a dragon and the loft beneath this stunning design offers white walls but also cleverly weaved arches which some consider to be a representation of the dragon’s rib cage. Casa Batlló’s architecture style is mysteriously elegant and not only stimulates the senses of any traveler, but momentarily lures them into a serene fantasy world far beyond their most regular imaginations.