It’s no secret that Barcelona is world renowned for its eclectic and beautiful architecture. Thousands upon thousands of tourists pass through the city each year and see the likes of the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, and Casa Batlló. Barcelona is especially famous for Catalan Modernism.
Known also as Modernisme, Catalan Modernism was the equivalent of Art Nouveau and lasted from roughly 1888-1911. It’s best known figure was Antoni Gaudí. The movement was led by highly individualistic and anti-traditionalist intellectuals who were attempting to update Catalán arts and ideas so as to catch up to the rest of major European cities.
Actually, the area of Paseo de Gracia between c/ Valencia & c/ Aragó is called the Block of Disaccord. When the city expanded past the old city limits, all the richest Barcelonés, and the top catalan architects of the day, competed to build the best and most intricate buildings. In the end we were left with a street full of some of the most extraordinary examples of Catalan Modernism architecture ever produced.
In this top-ranking article we will pass through some of the most famous Catalan architects and their buildings, touching on one especially famous Catalán hero named Josep Puig I Cadafalch. He was the mastermind behind “Casa de les Punxes” (House of the Toothpicks), “Casa Amatller” & “Casa Matí” where the famous Catalán resturant Els Quatre Gats is located.
Josep Puig i Cadafalch was a famous Catalan Modernism architect who was born in Mataró the 17th of October 1867 and died on the 23rd of December 1956. He was a disciple of Lluis Domenech i Muntaner who designed the “Palau de la Música” and “Casa Fuster”, Woody Allen’s favourite five star hotel, and “Casa Lleo Morera”. Both architects were of great importance for the Catalan Modernism movement that made Barcelona the great architectural city that it is today.
Josep designed “Casa de les Punxes” in the name of the “Terrades” brothers who wanted to combine their two houses into one building. He projected the Gothic style of Europe with some Medieval aspects like the building’s six towers. The towers have an iconic shape with needles on top fittingly giving it its name of Les Punxes, which is Catalán for toothpicks. It is located on Avenida Diagonal but it is not open to the public.
Another piece of Catalan Modernism architecture created by Puig I Cadafalch is Casa Amatller, the house that was custom built for the Amatller family who made their fortune in chocolate and other investments. The house is part of the Block of Discord where two other famous architects have had assignments for other families (like casa Batlló and Casa Lleo Morera). Casa Amatller houses the institute Amatller for the Spanish Arts. Only the entrance is open to the public and the front of the building displays sculptures of Eusebi Arnau who was a famous Catalan sculptor.
The restaurant Els Quatre Gats is located in “Casa Martí”, which was designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. When the building was officially opened it served as a hostal, bar and cabaret but it soon became a central meeting point for Barcelona artists and intelligentsia. The musical “Le Chat Noir” was inspired by this restaurant and the interesting people that used to hang out there.
Our next update on Catalán Modernism will be starring: “Lluis Domenech i Muntaner” the designer of “Palau de la Música” and other great buildings in the Catalan Modernism architectural landscape.