From the spiraling towers of the Sagrada Familia to the funky rooftops of Casa Battló and La Pedrera, the works of Gaudí dot the streets of Barcelona in the most unexpected of locales. As you wander down Passeig de Gracia among the many upscale boutiques and iron-clad balconies, the Casa Battló stands playfully taunting its less beautiful neighbors, begging you to enter and be amazed. An artistic soul herself, Tina's one unshakable request for her visit was to spend time in her favorite of Gaudí's houses.
Gaudí is known for his use of nature in his architecture, and the facade of Casa Battló has been compared both to the swirling shapes and gentle colors of the sea and at the same time to the rigid structure of bones. The balconies almost seem like the uppermost part of a human skull, the two large holes missing their peering eyes.
Inside the house is a magical array of curved lines, artfully playful stained glass, and peeks of light in just the right places. I couldn't help but think of Brian and how much he would love Gaudí's inexhaustible attention to detail. Every door knob created ergonomically and beautifully, every nook with attention to function and form.
The ceiling of the main salon. Tina and I stood mesmerized snapping photo after photo in this large living room. I wanted to lie on the floor and just stare up at the swirling design, but the place was crawling with people and unfortunately I've seen the horror that is the bottom of my shoes.
An audio tour came "free" with the price of admission (ahem), and we spent our time in the first few rooms dutifully standing with contraption pressed to head listening to our respective narrators (mine a painfully articulate British woman, Tina's an equally proper españ
ola). They droned on and on about what other people have said about Gaudí's work - the nod to the many natural inspirations manifested in this wall or that doorway. After about four rooms, we decided we'd just listen to our own thoughts about what the rooms and the design were saying to us and forgo the odd shaped cell phone necklace.
One of the last things that we did hear on our audio tour was that this fireplace nook was created with two benches on either side, one larger than the other, for an explicit purpose. The larger bench was to accommodate a lovesick couple, the smaller bench for their chaperon. How utterly unromantic.
I loved how these huge picture windows peered out over the bustling street below. I fear that if I lived in this gorgeous house, I'd be transfixed at this window and never make it out into the streets myself.
(Photo credit: Kristina Bagge)
It was such an interesting contrast between the warm, soft woods of the interior rooms and the slick, cool tile of the sunlit stairwell. I adored this tile and would love to have it my imaginary bathroom in my theoretical house that exists in the yet-to-be-named city we'll live in when we get back to the states.
So much going on behind those windows. I loved the juxtaposition of the circular lighting inside with the angular tiles just outside.
Yes, that is the lovely Kristina taking photo after photo of a wall. Gaudí used an iridescent paint in this room that reflected light in the most dazzling spectrum of colors. Noses pressed to wall, we took shot after shot to finally capture this....
For me the roof was the real gem of the whole spectacle and a place I could see myself spending countless hours if I lived here.
This entire floor was the attic...I think Brian would be completely jealous, as it's a far cry from the small, cramped hot box he used to have to ascend in our little house back in Austin.
The back patio off the 2nd floor was an incredible sight of more typical Gaudí mosaic tile work and sloping shapes. I love, love, loved the gate in the picture above.
(Photo credit: Kristina Bagge)
Rear facade of the house. The fenced off area on the right was in the process of being refurbished. Two women were painstakingly and carefully working on the intricate detail of the tile work.
We both were absolutely delighted with the whole experience. I was pretty sure I had visited the house in 2002 when I traveled to Barcelona with friends from Alicante, but I don't remember it making such a profound impression on me as it did this time. Kristina kept saying how she would LOVE to have a wedding in this house, and I have to agree that I think it would be ridiculously amazing. So I'm just going to put that out into the Universe for her... you never know. :)
After Casa Battló, it was onto the next Gaudí stop....