On my second day in Barcelona, Saturday, I took myself on a little self-guided walking tour of L’Eixample to see as much Modernisme architecture as I could handle. Quite aside from the most famous buildings of this movement there are lots of other gorgeous, and arguably more subtle, examples of it spread throughout L’Eixample where locals pass them by without a second glance. In particular I fell in love with a still-operating pharmacy decked out in the full Art Nouveau style.
I continued my little tour by visiting, among other buildings, the garishly decorated Palau de la Música Catalana and the neo-Gothic castle-style Casa Terrados, more commonly known as La Casa de los Punxes, the House of Spikes. It has three different front doors, one for each of the family’s daughters (and to think my sister and I had to share!) and was apparently described as ‘a crime against the nation’ when it was first built. I am inclined to agree. (I will pop some photos of it on Flickr if you want to see it.)
Then I slowly made my way back to Passeig de Gràcia to see the famous Casa Milà or La Pedrera and La Manzana de la Discordia (side note: I was so confused when I first heard that name as the only meaning for ‘manzana’ that I previously knew was ‘apple’ and ‘Apple of Discord’ didn’t seem to make much sense. I then learned that ‘manzana’ also means ‘block’ and the world made sense again.) Casa Milà is an apartment block designed by Gaudí with a wavy façade and some very intricate wrought iron balconies.It still houses one floor set up as a genuine 1920s Art Nouveau-Art Deco Spanish apartment. After a steep entrance fee and a few sets of steep stairs (I wasn’t going to wait for the lift like everyone else when there was a perfectly serviceable set of stairs. I underestimated how many flights up the apartment was.) I made it up to the apartment and really enjoyed the period furniture and décor and light and airy apartment. It had some great views over Passeig de Gràcia too. I think I could happily live there if anyone is offering. Then it was further onwards and upwards to the roof, which is spectacular. Bizarre but spectacular.The roof is all uneven with mini-flights of stairs or ramps leading you constantly up and down and it is covered by huge chimneys in strange block shapes. The view over Barcelona is great, as from just about everywhere you can see the Sagrada Familia sticking out because it is so huge.
Back on street-level it was finally time for La Manzana de la Discordia. Well, discord is right! There is nothing harmonious about the three Modernista buildings almost next to each other. Gaudí’s Casa Batlló has great, vibrant colours and shapes; next to it is the right-angled, Moor-ish Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch; on the corner is the ornate, delicate Casa Lleó Morera by Lluis Doménech.
By this point I was pretty much Modernisme-d out. While I do like the Modernisme-Art Nouveau style I really feel I am an Art Deco girl at heart. I spent the rest of the day eating fruit from La Boquería and people watching again, this time in the Plaça Reial. Later, back at the hostel, I struck up a conversation with some of my lovely roomies and ended up with a great bunch of people to head out with for dinner and drinks. It was some very welcome English-speaking company! Still, it was relatively early to bed before my last day in Barcelona. How many things there were still left to do in the city!!