Barcelona: Modernista Walk

Note: numbers preceding the building names refer to their locations on the Ruta del Modernisme site.


Ildefons Cerdà, 1860

Massive expansion of the city above the old city, designed on a perfectly regular grid of chamfered squares separated by broad avenues.  The whole was considered a sum of parts, each diminished unit having basic services meant to spread a utopian, egalitarian lifestyle among the varied residents of the district. Significant as the place that was filled out with the astonishing efflorescence of Modernista architecture by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Antoni Gaudí, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and others.

28 Cases Rocamora (Passeig de Gràcia, 6-14)

Joaquim and Bonaventura Bassegoda, 1914

One of the largest architectural complexes in the Eixample, built as a single architectural volume. Neo-Gothic. Note stone façade, striking set of bay windows on the corner of Carrer Casp. 

39 Casa Malagrida (Passeig de Gràcia, 27)

Joaquim Codina i Matalí, 1908 

Originally designed as a dwelling for several families. The most outstanding features of the building are the spectacular dome and the wrought iron lamp-posts in a foyer in which the elegant frescos and the coffered ceiling are also worth seeing. 

47 Casa Dolors Calm (Ram. de Catalunya, 54)

Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, 1903 remodeling

Features elegant, if somewhat deteriorated, marquetry on the set of bay windows on the façades, sgraffito work (decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting color, typically in plaster or stucco), and sculptural elements on the ground floor and the cornice

43 Casa Lleó Morera (Passeig de Gràcia, 35)

Lluís Domènech i Montaner, 1905 conversion (tours) 

House built 1864; remodeled for new owners in Domènech’s mature floral style. Interior (esp. foyer, stair, elevator and piano nobile) reveals especially strong fusion of applied arts in Modernista style (mosaics, glass, marquetry, paving, sculpture). Note that façade was remodeled in 1940, with much sculpture removed to make way for new storefront windows. Partial restoration in 1992. Original interior elements preserved in the MNAC.

44 Casa Amatller (Passeig de Gràcia, 41)

Josep Puig i Cadafalch, 1898 remodeling (tours)

For the Amatller chocolate manufacturer. House originally built in 1875. Remodeling inspired by urban Gothic mansions. Neo-Gothic elements: stepped Nordic façade, sgraffito treatment on exterior stucco, Flemish gable adorned with red and gold vitrified Valencian tiles, door and window sculptures, stucco work includes St. George & the dragon (by Eusebi Arnau). Bay window suggests influence of Vienna Secession, esp. Otto Wagner. Second floor features Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art (the building’s current owners). Interior features Roman-inspired mosaics and white marble; polychrome ceilings with sgraffito work. Original furniture at the MNAC

45 Casa Batlló (Passeig de Gràcia, 43)

Antoni Gaudí, 1904 remodeling (tours)

Batlló was an ostentatious textile tycoon who hired Gaudí to remodel a house built in 1870. He added a 5th floor and rebuilt interior walls to make a building with no right angles. Façade combines stone on the ground floor and the piano nobile with a mosaic facing on the higher floors (trencadís, a type of mosaic used in Catalonia, created from broken tile and ceramic shards), and is crowned with a scaly tiled roof. Some interpret it as an architectural manifestation of the tale of St. George, the patron saint of Catalonia. The roof represents the dragon’s back; the ‘tower’ is the sword; the iron balconies and first-floor bay structure are skulls, bones and tendons of the dragon’s victims. Alternately, some see an allegory of Carnival: the roof a harlequin’s hat, the balconies like ball masks, the ceramic tiles like confetti. Spectacular interior with tiled light well with graded colors. Not much original furniture left; but some preserved at MNAC.

50 Farmàcia Bolós (Rambla de Catalunya, 77)

Josep Domènech i Estapà, 1904-10

Retains most of its original decorative elements: a fine lamp bearing the name of the shop, stained glass windows, and furniture, all designed by the great craftsman Antoni Falguera.

46 Editorial Montaner i Simon, Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Aragó, 255)

Domènech i Montaner, 1880 (tours)

Non-academic façade with a slightly Mudejar (“Moorish,” denoting a style inspired by the architecture of Muslim designers in Al-Andalus) appearance and unusual metallic structure (cast iron columns; steel beams. Now topped by a sculptural work by contemporary artist Antoni Tàpies, Núvol i cadira.

54 Casa Vídua Marfà (Passeig de Gràcia, 66)

Manuel Comas i Thos, 1901-05

Great example of the Neo-Medieval style. Features three semicircular arches giving onto the street and slender columns supporting the bay window on the façade. 

66 Palau Montaner (Mallorca, 278)

Domènech i Montaner, 1896

Begun by another architect who resigned in 1891, having completed the first and second floors. Completed for owners of a publishing firm. Note decorative elements that recall the art of printing. Rich decoration with mosaics, sculpture, massive stair and huge skylight. Interior: lots of sculpture by Eusebi Arnau, woodwork by Gaspar Homar; glass by Antoni Rigalt. Currently home to a delegation of government from Madrid.

51 Casa Domènech i Estapà (València, 241) Josep Domènech i Estapà, 1908-09


Built for the architect’s own family. Asymmetrical distribution of the exposed masonry façade with a bay window on one side offset by a line of windows on the other. 

53 Casa Queraltó (Rambla Catalunya, 88)

Josep Plantada i Artigas, 1907

Much altered since construction, especially at roof. Maintains original elegant pink sgraffito work and false arches with columns and capitals. 

67 Casa Milà, La Pedrera (Passeig de Gràcia, 92 / Provença, 261-265)

Gaudí, 1905 (tours)

Gaudí’s last residential project replaced a modest 3-story building. Built for a property developer who loved novelty, fashion, and thus Modernista. Façade clad in rough-hewn limestone blocks and wrought-iron balconies. Some people see the inspiration of medieval fortresses here, with chimneys that look like sentinels with helmets. Inside it’s more delicate, with painted ceilings and foyer. The underground coach house could be considered Europe’s first parking garage. In general, building is a figure-eight plan. Attic visit reveals the unusual structure of 270 parabolic arches that support the roof, which was described by one Spanish poet as a “warriors’ garden.” Chimneys are clad with marble fragments, trencadís, and in one instance, the bottoms of champagne bottles. The client’s unhappy wife redecorated the main floor in the Louis XVI style in 1926.

Building deteriorated after the Civil War (1936-39)  the 20th c., restored starting in 1986.

68 Casa Casas-Carbó (Passeig de Gràcia, 96)

Antoni Rovira i Rabassa, 1894

Residence of painter Ramon Casas and writer Santiago Rusiñol. Façade is a blend of medieval and Renaissance design principles with Modernista decorative elements.

76 Palau del Baró de Quadras (Diagonal, 373)

Puig i Cadafalch, 1904

Veritable compendium of the architect’s capacity for design and elegance. Everything is exemplary: from the wrought iron door to the highly-ornamented foyer with Mudejar details, Roman mosaics, polychrome woodwork, sgraffito work and wooden lattices. Note the double façade: (1) facing toward Av. Diagonal, a noble Gothic and Plateresque forms with an abundant floral decoration and the appearance of a a great mansion; (2) rear façade (giving onto Carrer Rosselló) reveals the building as a block of flats. Appropriately, this Catalan Modernisme tour de force is now home to the Institut Ramon Llull, which promotes study of the Catalan language.

70 Casa Antoni Costa (Ram. de Catalunya 122)

Josep Domènech i Estapà, 1904

Perhaps the most representative multi-family dwelling by the architect. Monumental, wth Secession influences. 

69 Casa Serra (Rambla de Catalunya, 126)

Josep Puig i Cadafalch, 1903 

Grandiose single-family urban mansion, now backed by an unsympathetic glass façade (1987). Two wings forming an angle give onto Rambla Catalunya. Note the Plateresque (style of decoration in Spanish architecture inspired by low-relief silver work) door influenced by a famous Renassiace building that once stood in Barccelona and was demolished in mid-19th c. Synthesis of other inspirations: balconies and windows combine Gothic and Renaissance elements. Now home to the Provincial Council of Barcelona.

77 Casa Comalat (Diagonal, 442)

Salvador Valeri i Popurull, 1909-11

Spectacular work, apparently influenced by Gaudí. Main façade is symmetrical and urban; rear façade (on Carrer Còrsega), is less formal, polychrome and decorated with peculiar Modernista wooden galleries with blinds and coloured ceramic work. The interior is no less impressive, with mosaic paving and elaborate furniture featuring unusually shaped benches and the peculiar foyer lights. 

75 Casa Fuster (Passeig de Gràcia, 132)

Domènech i Montaner, 1908-11

The architect’s last work in Barcelona, which also marks the end of Passeig de Gràcia. Façade’s cylindrical tower is typical of the DiM, adorned with sculptures that simulate swallows’ nests, and a curious (and unusual) French-style attic. Intended tower design never completed; DiM’s Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau for a taste of what it might have been like. The culturally significant Cafè Vienès once occupied the ground floor, and the dance hall El Danubio was in the basement. Now a spiffy hotel.

74 Casa Bonaventura Ferrer (Passeig de Gràcia, 113)

Pere Falqués, 1906

 Façade with a striking sculptural treatment, particularly the bay window, which gives it an exceptionally monumental appearance. 

Casa de les Punxes (Avinguda Diagonal, 420)

Josep Puig i Cadafalc, 1903

The "House of Spikes" was built to house three sisters in neighboring units that look like one giant medieval castle. Spectacular brick and tile work.

Casa Calvet (Carrer de Casp, 48)

Gaudí, 1899

A conservative version of Gaudí.

Palau de la Música Catalana (C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6)

Lluís Domènech i Montane, 1905-08

Apogee of Catalan modernisme and Catalan nationalism in form and function. Tour de force concert hall for the Orfeó Català, founded in 1891 to preserve and popularize folk song and its relationship to Classical music.

Hospital de Sant Pau (Carrer de Sant Quintí, 89)

Lluís Domènech i Montaner, 1901-30

Domènech's final word on Catalan modernisme, here turned to the beneficial effects of art on health. A gathering of individual, unique pavilions awash in mosaic, sculpture, glass and woodwork, connected underground to ensure the functionality of the hospital. Includes a fancy cafe. 

Parc Güell

Gaudí, 1890-1914

A failed housing project for Barcelona's super-rich turned into a public park.

Casa Vicens ( Carrer de les Carolines, 2)

Antonio Gaudí, 1903

House built for a brick and tile manufacturer in in a fusion of the modernisme and Neo-Mudéjar styles, famous as a very early work of Gaudí.

Cementiri de Montjuïc (Carrer de la Mare de Déu de Port, 56)

Founded in 1883, the cemetery has one of the best views of the sea anywhere in Barcelona. Significant for opening at the time of modernisme's flourishing, which is revealed in the design of the memorials throughout the cemetery that date from the 1880s-1910s.

Museu del Modernisme Barcelona (Carrer de Balmes, 48)

Whole museum dedicated to Catalan modernisme, housed in a 1902 house designed by Enric Sagnier. Collection includes painting, sculpture, furniture and other decorative arts.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc)

National Museum of Art, in one of the buildings of the 1929 Exposition. Lots of modernista furniture (& other decorative arts) within a collection that spans from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. Particularly strong in Romanesque painting, modernisme and noucentisme Catalan art.