Robin's Adventures

Morocco, Spain, & Portugal
A Picturesque Adventure

Casa Mila

Casa Mila, which was designed by Antoni Gaudi, was one of the unique buildings we saw in Barcelona. This building, which was the last private residence designed by Gaudi, was constructed between 1906 and 1912 for Pere Mila and his wife Roser. The design of the building was said to be inspired by a mountain and it has been nicknamed "La Pedera" which means "the stone quarry."

The building, which incorporates a constant curve on both interior and exterior walls, is nine stories tall and was built around a central courtyard. The garage is in the basement and the owners lived in a flat on the main floor. The rest of the building had twenty flats of various sizes that were rented out. When the owner's wife, Roser, complained to Gaudi that there was no straight wall for her Steinway piano, Gaudi is said to have replied "So play the violin."

Floor tiles that were designed by Gaudi and used in this home, can now be found along pedestrian walkways on Paseo de Gracia, the street where this home is located. The tile, which has a raised design that represents the ocean and some of its animal and plant life, was installed along the walkways in 1997 as a tribute to Gaudi.

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo, which is another Gaudi masterpiece, is also called "Casa dels Ossos" or "House of Bones." It is located on Paseo de Gracia, one of the main avenues in Barcelona, in the "Block of Discord" which contains several buildings in the style of Modernism or Art Nouveau.

The roof of the building is arched and tiled to look like the scaled back of a dragon. The tall rounded turret with the cross on top is said to be the sword of Saint George which is slaying the dragon.

Gaudi was greatly influenced by nature in the creation of his designs. Part of this building's external facade, which consists of gently flowing curves with ceramic fragments and plaster and ceramic discs, gives the appearance of a peaceful lake with shimmering water that has waterlilies floating along the surface.

Casa Amatller

Architect Puig i Cadafalch designed this building for Antoni Amatller, a chocolate manufacturer. The building, which was completed in 1900, has an interesting roofline that looks like the corner of a bar of chocolate which has some squares that have been eaten. The roofline is also reminiscent of 17th century homes in the Netherlands.

Above the window of the daughter's bedroom is a giant letter A and a series of smaller As in the branches of an almond tree. This is a reference to the family's last name, Amatller, which translates to almond in Spanish. In addition, there are five petaled almond flowers sculpted around the window and displayed in a repeating motif on the tiles on the front of the building.

The building, which had a revolving garage on the bottom floor, now houses a cafe and chocolate shop in that space. Casa Amatller is located on the Block of Discord right next door to Gaudi's Casa Batllo.

Detail from Casa Amatller

The facade of Casa Amatller contains a variety of sculptures that were made by artists Eusebi Arnau and Alfons Juyol. There is a gypsy with a tame bear on a rope as well as a scene of Saint George slaying a dragon. There is also a man taking photos with a camera which is a tribute to Antoni Amatller who was an avid photography buff.

Other sculptures are of animals engaging in activities that were much beloved by Amatller, such as painting, art, and music, as well as reading and making pottery.

Other Awesome Architecture

Barcelona has been recognized as a city with a great deal of unique and original architecture. The city was awarded the prestigious Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1999 by the Royal Institute of British Architects. This was the only time this award, which is normally presented to an individual for significant contributions to international architectural designs, was presented to a city.

The Casa Lleo Morera, designed in 1902 by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, and Casa Carma i Escurra, designed by a Gaudi disciple named Francesc Berenguer i Mestres, are both Art Nouveau style buildings that are located on Barcelona's Block of Discord.

Another unique building, which is known as the Umbrella House, dates back to 1883 when the ground floor was an umbrella shop operated by the owner of the building. The design, which incorporates umbrellas, a dragon statue holding a lantern, and Japanese paintings on enameled areas of the outer facade was created by architect Josep Vilaseca.

Guell Park

Guell Park, which was originally intended to be a housing development envisioned by Eusebi Guell, is a public garden designed by Antoni Gaudi that was built between 1900 and 1914. The house that was built as a model home never sold and eventually Gaudi moved in with his family. Gaudi lived in this home, which is now a museum located in Guell Park, until his death in 1926.

The dragon stairway, which is at the main entrance, has a colorful mosaic salamander as well as the emblem of Catalonia and a small fountain. At the top of the stairway is the Hypostyle Room, which was to be a marketplace for the residents of the housing development, with 86 columns and numerous small tiled domes along the ceiling.

Nearby is the wrought iron fence with panels shaped like palm leaves. This fence was not originally part of the plan for the park, but was brought in from Casa Vicens which was the first residence ever designed by Gaudi.

Guell Park Buildings

The Porter's Cottage and Porter's Residence are located at the entrance to Guell Park. Since the original design called for an upscale housing tract, it was appropriate to have a guard stationed at the entrance of the development.

The building at the right was the residence of the porter and his family while the building on the left was designed to be the guardhouse. Both buildings were designed by Gaudi.

Unique Walkways

Gaudi used shapes observed in nature and geometry as inspirations for many of his designs. The walkways, which were to provide covered foot paths between the homes in the residential area, look like an ocean wave with angled columns. One of the walkways, referred to as the laundry room portico, has a statue of a laundress in one of the columns.

Above the walkways were a series of roadways cut into the hillsides. The columns supporting the roads resemble tree trunks and in one area the basket-like rock structures at the top of the columns resemble giant bird nests.

Park Benches with a Twist

Guell Park has a large plaza, called Nature Square, that was intended to be the location of al fresco performances. This area is surrounded by a large serpentine bench adorned with colorful mosaic tiles.

The tiles used to create the bench were reclaimed waste material from a nearby ceramics factory. Some sections of the bench were carefully planned to create specific designs with the tiles and others were more random. This process of fitting together broken tiles to create a mosaic is called trencadis and it can be seen in many of Gaudi's works.

When it rains, the angle of the benches ensures that water will quickly move to the rear of the seating area and out strategically placed openings in the back. Small bumps in the seat were designed to be aesthetically pleasing and to prevent anyone from sitting on the wet part of the bench.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia, which means Holy Family in Spanish, is a Roman Catholic basilica that has been under construction since 1882. The original architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar, resigned in 1883 and Gaudi took over the project changing the design to reflect a combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles.

Although construction on the basilica is not yet complete, it was consecrated by the Pope in 2010 and has been used for Sunday services ever since. When construction is complete, the basilica will achieve a height of 566 feet which will make it the world's tallest church.