On a recent trip to Barcelona, I delved deep into the world of Catalan modernism (modernisme), the aesthetic school that brought the world geniuses like Antonin Gaudì and Ramon Casas. Of course, monuments like Gaudì’s cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, and his mosaic-coated stretch of land at the top of Barcelona, Parc Güell, are absolute must-sees. I spent a day in this inspiring city walking the length of the Ruta del Modernisme (Modernism Route), taking in architectural feats and enjoying a little tapas and wine along the way. The route is clearly marked by red floral tiles in the sidewalks, which makes it easy to guide yourself to some of the city’s most impressive modernist sites. In addition to following the main route, you can also take the off-shoots to see even more modernist masterpieces. Here are three stops along the way that are definite must-sees.
Museu del Modernisme Barcelona
A museum dedicated solely to Catalan modernism, this tightly curated space is packed with treasures that span the worlds of art and design. From ornately carved furniture pieces to early modernist paintings to advertising prints, Museu del Modernisme gives visitors a feel for the depth and breadth of this dynamic movement. The current exhibition (open through November, 2016) is a retrospective of the artist Ramon Casas, in honor of the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Casa Milà, La Pedrera
Located along the luxurious Passeig de Gràcia, Casa Milà is one of Gaudì’s most impressive architectural accomplishments (and that’s saying a lot!). Constructed between the years of 1906-1912, this iconic structure has earned the nickname ‘La Pedrera’ (the stone quarry), a reference to the fact that the façade resembles an open quarry. In 1984, Casa Milà was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for its exceptional aesthetic and cultural value. This former home of Roser Segimon and Pere Milà now serves the headquarters of Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation, dedicated to the preservation and growth of Catalan art and culture.
Just a few steps down on Passeig de Gràcia you’ll find another Gaudì masterpiece, Casa Battló. In 1904, homeowner Josep Battló hired Gaudì to remodel a preexisting house, giving it an ornate, organic façade that has earned the structure the nickname Casa dels ossos (House of Bones) amongst locals. Much of the exterior is covered with Gaudì’s signature mosaics, made from broken ceramic tiles, and the top of the house resembles a dragon (thought my many to be a nod to Barcelona’s patron saint St. George the dragon slayer). Elaborate stained glass windows (similar to those in La Sagrada Famila) add another layer of visual interest. As if the elaborate exterior weren’t enough, there is now a museum inside Casa Battlò, allowing visitors to crawl inside the mind of this Catalan modernist genius.
Have you visited Barcelona? Which modernist masterpieces were your favorites? Let us know in the comments section!