Casa Batlló

Gaudí creativity and originality

This building, located in the heart of the Eixample district, is one of the city’s most famous. The architect Antoni Gaudí designed it in the early 20th century, at the height of the Modernisme movement, as a residence for the Batlló family. It is a true work of art, both inside and out. As you walk up to it on Passeig de Gràcia the first thing you notice is its facade.

Why visit Casa Batlló?

Casa Batlló is quite a sight to behold. A construction that seems to be almost alive and in constant dialogue with light and colour. It is one of the most important examples of Modernisme.

In the early 20th century, the textile entrepreneur Josep Batlló i Casanovas wanted to have the building that stood at Passeig de Gràcia 43 demolished and have Antoni Gaudí build another in its place. But the architect decided to ‘simply’ remodel it. This is how from 1904 to 1907 Gaudí came to leave his mark on the city with one of the most visited constructions in Barcelona.

Its outstanding feature is its facade which is wavy and combines stone, wrought iron, and the broken glass and ceramic tile trencadís (broken tile shards used to form a mosaic) style of mosaic typical of Gaudí’s work. The piano nobile and the first floor incorporate fine, bone-like stone columns decorated with floral elements. The rails of the balconies, made in a single piece of grey cast iron, are shaped like masks, and the top roof is in the form of a dragon’s back with large shimmering scales. The result is a whole that is loaded with symbolism and colour.

In the building’s interior Gaudí created a new distribution with undulating forms inspired by the animal kingdom and the seabed to create skylights in the shape of tortoise shells and banisters that seem to be the spiny projections of some large animal or other. The light well is finished in tiles in a variety of blue tones that incorporate relief forms and uniformly distribute the light entering through the iron and glass skylight. The details on the doors, glass and ergonomic forms are a constant throughout the building.

The attics at the top of the building had formerly housed laundry sinks, box rooms, water tanks and other utility spaces. This part of the building is very different to the rest of Casa Batlló. It is an open-plan and austere space, located under a Catalan vault supported by 60 parabolic arches that appear to be the ribcage of some enormous beast.

And finally, on the roof, on the back of the dragon, there are four groups of sinuous chimneys, finished in trencadís with bars placed atop them to ensure that the wind does not obstruct the outflow of smoke. At Casa Batlló everything is designed to be functional while at the same time incorporating Gaudí’s creativity and originality.

The fame of this Gaudí building is such that it has inspired artists in all disciplines, including the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, for whom it has been a subject on numerous occasions.

 

How do you get to Casa Batlló?

Hop off at the Casa Batlló – Fundació Antoni Tàpies stop on the Blue and Red Routes of Barcelona Bus Turístic.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? The cement tile floor designed by Antoni Gaudí for Casa Batlló consisted of blue hexagonal pieces with marine motifs. Gaudí did not use his distinctive panots (decorative paving slabs) for this building like he did at Casa Milà, more popularly known as La Pedrera. Now these panots pave the entire Passeig de Gràcia.
  • Local’s tip: A visit to Casa Batlló can be completed with a video guide that employs virtual and augmented reality to allow you to see what the building was originally like. It is worth taking the time to make an in-depth visit as this Gaudí masterpiece is full of secrets!
  • A must: For architects, romantics, design fans, lovers of stories, men, women, the old, the young… An essential part of any visit to Barcelona.