Barcelona's amazing Modernista architecture

An event on our social program, our photowalking tour in April took us from the Plaza Lesseps to the Calle Aragón to see some of Barcelona's Modernista architecture, including one of the less famous Gaudí houses...

  • Our first stop was right outside the Metro exit at the Plaza Lesseps where we have the Cases Ramos (Architect: Jaume Torres i Grau; Built: 1906).

  • Cases Ramos: Among the features of Modernista houses, the stone- and ironwork and the decorative balconies.

  • Cases Ramos: Another feature of Modernisme: the presence of Nature. This is said to be a bee (though some us said a wasp, others a butterfly, and Sandra reckoned it was a bat).

  • Contemporary with its far more famous brothers and sisters, this house stands on the corner of Princep d'Asturies with Guillem Tell. Note the patched-over crack in the façade (left).

  • We're now at Carolines 18-24, outside the Casa Vicens (Antoni Gaudí, 1883-1888), the one Gaudí building we would be seeing today. But there's so much more to Barcelona's architecture than just its most famous name...

  • More nature: The magnificent wrought-iron fence outside the Casa Vicens, with each piece in the shape of a palm leaf.

  • The Modernista houses were built for rich patrons: the Casa Vicens for tile manufacturer Manuel Vicens -- who obviously thought it an opportunity to exhibit some of his products!

  • The Casa Vicens. Got a spare €30m? It's currently up for sale! Photo, Eili Rahnel

  • The Rambla de Prat: none of its houses are in the guidebooks, but it's one of best examples in Barcelona of a street full of turn-of-the-century architecture.

  • Guapa i segura: literally, lovely and secure, the slogan for municipal rehabilitation plans. A century of pollution hasn't been kind to Barcelona's architecture, and bits keep falling off!

  • Doorway on the Rambla de Prat

  • Inside: Patron Saint of Catalunya, Sant Jordi (Saint George) slays the dragon (in this particular case with a bit of cellotape to hold his lance in place!).

  • Inside the same house: the stairwell, its windows and banisters in typical Modernista style.

  • Not Modernisme! We're on Gran de Gracia now, where we'll find some great examples of how speculators bought plots of land which they then subdivided and sold off: the hideously narrow houses mean that you'll be walking up the stairs -- there's no room for a lift.

  • At first sight, because of the traffic, Gran de Gracia seems like one of Barcelona's ugliest streets: but -- though they won't be in your guidebook -- it has some more great examples of Modernista houses, and some wonderful streetlamps.

  • Detail of the Caixa d'Estalvis (Savings Bank) building on Gran de Gracia (Nº 18-22; August Font i Carreras; 1905-1906), weathered and polluted a dramatic shade of dark gray.

  • The Casa Fuster (Domènech i Montaner, 1908-1911), now a five-star hotel (200 to 3000 euros a night said the doorman, when we inquired how much a room is!). Photo: Eili Rahnel

  • The Casa Bonventura Ferrer (Passeig de Gracia 113, Pere Falqués, 1905-1906) is one of Barcelona's most exclusive party spaces (more information, images on

  • Another of the features of Modernisme is said to be -- as in Nature -- the use of curved rather than straight lines, with the Casa Comalat (Salvador Valeri i Popurull; 1909-1911) being a superb example.

  • Another shot of what is in fact the back of the Casa Comalat, on the corner of Còrsega with Pau Claris.

  • We're now at Diagonal 442, one of Barcelona's main streets, and looking at the front of the Casa Comalat. You wouldn't think it was the same building!

  • Balcony on the Casa Comalat.

  • On the other side of the Diagonal, at Nº373, there's the Palau del Baró de Quadras (Domènech i Montaner; 1904-06). The Baró de Quadras needed a suitably ostentatious house to go with his newly acquired title of nobility.

  • Count how many wild beasts you can spot in the stonework on Barcelona's Modernista façades, this one on the Palau del Baró de Quadras (aka the Casa Asia).

  • Two blocks down the Diagonal at Nº 416-420, we come to the Casa Terrades (Puig i Cadafalch, 1903-1905), aka the Casa de les Punxes (lit. the House of Spikes), because of its pointed towers.

  • Detail: Casa Terrades

  • Detail: Casa Terrades

  • We're now heading down Roger de Lluria (which would eventually take us back to IH)

  • Detail of stonework on the house at Roger de Lluria 124.

  • Another detail on the same house.

  • Roger de Lluria: the netting is to catch any bits of masonry that might suddenly drop off, as a century of pollution hasn't been kind to Barcelona's stonework

  • The Palau Montaner (Mallorca 278; Domènech i Montaner; 1896) was built for the owners of the publishers Montaner i Simon.

  • Detail of the wrought-iron gate on Palau Montaner.

  • The Queviures Múrria (Roger de Llúria 85), a corner shop that opened in 1898, with adverts in the windows copied from original posters by Ramon Casas. Advertising posters were another of the forms of Art Nouveau/Modernisme.

  • The end of our walk: the 14th Century Parish Church of La Purísima Concepción, rebuilt stone-by-stone in 1869 at its present location to save it from one of Barcelona's many revolutions.

  • Trafalgar 14: If you came back to IH with us afterwards and looked up as you walked in you'd notice the Modernista details by the front door...

Other Barcelona photowalking trips

Barcelona's amazing Modernista houses

Squares of the Barrio Gótico

The districts of Sant Pere and La Ribera

Lo pegado y pintado en las paredes del Gótico: Graffiti in Barcelona



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