As the UNESCO comments:
Seven properties built by the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona testify to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These monuments represent an eclectic, as well as a very personal, style which was given free reign in the design of gardens, sculpture and all decorative arts, as well as architecture.
His work is rooted in the particular character of the period, drawing on the one hand from traditional Catalan patriotic sources and on the other from the technical and scientific progress of modern industry. Gaudí’s work is a remarkable reflection of all these different facets of society and has a unique and singular character. In fact, his works are particularly associated with Modernisme, and in this sense, Gaudí can be regarded as the most representative and outstanding of the Modernista architects.
Gaudí’s work is an exceptional creative synthesis of several 19th-century artistic schools, such as the Arts and Crafts movement, Symbolism, Expressionism, and Rationalism, and is directly associated with the cultural apogee of Catalonia. Gaudí also presaged and influenced many forms and techniques of 20th-century Modernism.
(Below is the general introduction of a series of 6 posts about the 7 works by Antoni Gaudí protected by the UNESCO in and around Barcelona. If you have already read my first post “Works of Antoni Gaudí (1/7) – La Sagrada Familia” please skip the introduction part and jump below the horizontal line.)
In total there are 7 properties designed by Antoni Gaudí which are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. They are, Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Casa Batlló and Crypt in Colonia Güell.
Luckily, many thanks to the developed tourism industry of Barcelona, I was able to visit almost all the properties except Casa Vicens, which was still under reconstruction. It was a pity that I could only take a look at the exterior of the building but later on I read more about the interior on books. Hopefully when you visit Barcelona, the door of Casa Vicens will be open to you already.
In order to provide an insight into how to explore the works of Gaudí in a more organized manner, I’d like to write about these 7 properties in 6 not-too-long posts, namely “la Sagrada Familia”, “Casa Mila”, “Casa Batlló”, “Park Güell”, “Palau Güell”, “Crypt in Colonia Güell and Casa Vicens”, just in case if you only want to visit some of the 7 buildings, you don’t need to scroll down a super-long post to find out where to go or what to see.
My general structure of introducing these properties would be first of all, some practical information based on my own experience such as opening hours and buying tickets. Secondly, I’ll focus on what I’ve learnt from my visit (audio guide or books) and I’ll try offering some highlights combined with pictures. I believe in this way, it’s easier to understand the cultural and historical value of Gaudí’s works and his influence. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or contact the Tourism Office of Barcelona directly, I assure you they will handle your questions or requests efficiently. Now, let’s start our journey of exploring the masterpieces of God’s architect, Antoni Gaudí.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, this wide central Passeig de Gràcia became the choice for many wealthy Barcelona families to build their houses. These industrial giants competed with each other to commission the most expensive and most famous architects of that time to build the most luxurious and comfortable home.
The best example of this rivalry is the so-called “block of discord‘, on the western side of Passeig de Gracia between Carrer Consell de Cent and Carrer Aragó. What impressed me most are Casa Lleó Morera, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the creator of Palau de la Música, Casa Mulleras, by Enric Sagnier Villavecchia, who designed the church on the top of Tibidabo and of course Casa Batllo, by Antoni Gaudí, which was begun in 1904.
What you need to know is that Antoni Gaudí didn’t build Casa Batlló from the ground. The industrialist Josep Batlló purchased this house which was already built 29 years ago and when he commissioned Gaudí to build his house he suggested to demolish this entire building and build a brand new house from the ground. However, by the end Gaudí persuaded him to keep the original building and only to refurbish it. He added another storey and attic space and totally changed the exterior and interior appearance.
It is worth noticing that the design and construction of Casa Batlló marks a milestone in the entire career of Antoni Gaudí because this house together with Park Güell are the first works of him which are without any trait of historic styles such as Gothic or Baroque. From here on, he confidently applied his own artistic convictions based on what he observed in nature.
Placing a dragon in central Passeig de Gràcia was indeed a bold idea of Gaudí. It is in this house that we will deepen our understanding of Gaudí’s frames of reference (nature) and his symbolism.
1. Practical information
1.1 Opening hours
Fortunately, Casa Batlló is open 365 days a year!
Monday – Sunday: 9:00 – 21:00 pm. (Last entrance 20:00)
From 1st June to 1st October, there is also an event on the roof terrace of Casa Batlló called magic nights, which starts at 21:00 everyday.
1.2 Various ticket types and prices
Basically there is price difference between booking tickets online and buying ticket on site at the ticket office. The price difference is between 3-4.5 euros. According to my own experience, the line for buying tickets and for entering the building wasn’t too long and I waited for around 5 mins. However, it might just because that I was lucky so if you can, why not saving some money to buy an ice-cream and booking your tickets online to save some time queuing up? Below I’ll show you the prices of buying the most basic ticket online, that is to say the ticket to enter Casa Batlló for a complete visit (please note that augmented reality video guide is included in this price).
- Adult (+18): 23,5 €
- Juniors (7-18): 20,5 €
- Students (with card): 20,5 €
- Seniors (+65): 20,5 €
- Residents (Prov. BCN): 15 €
- Children (-7): Free
For buying this type of ticket on site, the prices are:
- Adult (+18): 28 €
- Juniors (7-18): 24,5 €
- Students (with card): 24,5 €
- Seniors (+65): 24,5 €
- Residents (Prov. BCN): 18 €
- Children (-7): Free
In order to enhance your experience of visiting, Casa Batlló offers more types of tickets adjusted to your own needs and interests. From 1st June to 1st October, there is also an event on the roof terrace of Casa Batlló called magic nights. The event starts at 21:00 and you can enjoy live music and drinks on the terrace. However, please note that from 21:00 on, the interior of the building will be closed for visit and you can only visit the roof terrace.
Now let me introduce some more types of tickets that might interest you.
Casa Batlló + FastPass (skip the line)
Price: online: 28,5 €, on site: 33 €
Casa Batlló + Magic Nights (night visit at 20:00 + live music on the dragon’s roof terrace)
Price: 39 €. Please note that the visit starts at 20:00 and after your visit of the interior of the building you can enjoy live music and two drinks on the roof terrace.
Be the First! (visit Casa Batlló at 8:30 before it opens)
Price: 36 €. A great opportunity for you to take some nice photos because only a limited small amount of visitors are allowed in at this point. Have to enter at 8:30.
Magic Nights (live music and two drinks)
Price: 29 €. Enter the roof terrace at 21:00 and enjoy live music and two drinks. Do keep in mind that this ticket doesn’t give you access to the inside of Casa Batlló.
Casa Batlló + OpenDate (come whenever you want)
Price: 30,5 €. Come on any day at any time as you want.
Theatrical Visit (a family tour of the Casa Batlló with “Gaudí or Ramoneta”)
Price: 36 €. Only available on Sundays with dramatic guided tour.
If you wanna book your tickets online or wanna know more about these special tickets please click here to visit the official website of Casa Batlló.
1.3 How to get here
Address: Casa Batlló, Passeig de Gràcia 43, 08007 Barcelona.
- Bus: Number H10, V15, 7, 22 and 24.
- Barcelona Tourist Bus (North & South): Casa Batlló – Fundació Antoni Tàpies stop
- Metro: lines L2, L3 and L4 to station Passeig de Gràcia:
If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or click here to contact the official website of Casa Batlló.
2. Explore the “house of bones” or “house of yawns”
Casa Batlló has got the nickname of “house of bones” or “house of yawns” because of its exterior façade and once you are standing in front of it I believe it’s very easy for you to understand why. A distinctive feature of Gaudí’s work is the constant presence of symbols, which you will see plenty related to the themes of dragon and sea once you use your imagination here in Casa Batlló.
Unlike visiting a usual museum, why not turning this visit into an adventure? Thanks to Gaudí, visiting Casa Batlló is like exploring the dragon, closely connected to the legend of St. George, the patron saint of Catalonia. From the interior façade to the ground floor, from the spacious room to the roof terrace, use your imagination and you will discover that the whole building is indeed the dragon that St. George defeated, and it is resting here forever.
This property is made up of 7 floors, the basement, the ground floor, first floor, 4 more floors and the attic. In the following chapter, I’ll give you a virtual tour of Casa Batlló in the following sequence because these stops are my favorite during my visit. The main (front) façade -> The main floor (first floor, owner’s home) -> The rear courtyard -> The inner courtyard (light well) -> The loft (attic) -> The roof terrace.
2.1 The main (front) façade
Although Gaudí preserved the original building, he clad the original walls in stone, ceramic and glass, making it one of the most eye-catching attractions on Passeig de Gràcia. The first-floor gallery and balconies carved in stone (from Montjuïc) in the shape of bones undoubtedly keep astonishing people passing by till today. On the upper half of the façade, small glazed ceramic discs gleam in the sunlight on an undulating surface, creating an effect similar to watching an impressionist painting. The rails of the balconies are made of cast iron and painted ivory and gold, which look like masks or maybe skulls.
Can you see the glazed ceramic tiles which represent the dragon’s scale, the multicolored panels which represent the dragons rough skin, the gallery in the middle which represents the dragon’s gaping maw and scattered along the façade, can you see the bones and eye sockets?
Standing in front of it, you will see the Bulbous cross, a four-armed cross raised over a bulbous base, which emphasizes the organic nature of this building. In front of the glasses of the gallery, you will see the thin columns as tibias, from which the plant begin to sprout, a symbol of death as well as life and regeneration.
2.2 The main floor (first floor, owner’s home)
Once you enter from the main gate and walk along the first floor stairway (separated from the stairway of the other residents in this building), you will arrive at the main floor, the owner’s home. What’s worth noting here are an enormous gallery and the considerate details that Gaudí designed for this family. The gallery, with highly expressive osseous and naturalist forms, is equipped with an ingenious sash window, which can be opened fully to the outside. Other details that Gaudí paid attention to when designing Batlló’s home include inventing devices that would provide more inner light and ventilation, building the famous curved and unending ceiling and walls, and designing all the furniture in this house, from the doors to the tables and from chairs to stools. Take a close look at the handles, latches, door knockers, they were designed by Gaudí moulding their shapes in clay before making them in tin. With a video guide, you need to flow up closely and you will discover all the tiny tiny details that the genius architect took into consideration to make Casa Batlló an ideal home.
As shown in the pictures above, the first floor stairway, private access stairway to the main floor, is made of oak and the carved pieces along the steps succeed each other like vertebrae of the backbone of a dragon. The upright on the top of the handrail of the private stairway resembles the solidified splash of a drop of water or the crown that tops a sceptre. Use your vivid imagination, you might also think that the red crystal ball in the middle is the source of water, and it’s flowing from the upright along the handrail of the stairway to the ground.
On this floor, the design, furnishing and cabinetwork demonstrate Gaudí’s concern for details and unity. The chimney imbedded in the wall in Catalan country house style demonstrates the perfect fusion of design and functionality. The glass paste discs are still with air bubbles in them from when they were made which strengthens the feeling of the sea. The colors of them reflect the coloring of the façade. From this point, we can see that Gaudí didn’t think of each part separately, instead, he designed the building as a whole.
The ceiling of the central room (drawing room) is a flat sky that forms a whirlpool which together with the “water drops” on the ceiling of the dining room connected to the rear courtyard, constitutes some more marine references.
2.3 The rear courtyard
The rear façade is organized by means of continuous balconies to which wide french windows open out. The railing of the balconies are made of very thin and transparent iron grilles, which gives a sensation of great lightness. The rear façade, similar to the main façade, is again embellished with trencadís and covered with ceramic scales of different colors. Similarly, the flower boxes in the rear courtyard are also covered with ceramic discs and broken glass pieces, as well as ceramic trencadís of various colors.
2.4 The inner courtyard (light well)
Gaudí saved the most innovative and important structural adjustment to the inner courtyard, also called the light well. He widened it considerably in oder to let in more natural light and improve the ventilation of the apartments, without sacrificing the space for the staircase used by the other residents living in this block. What’s more, in order to make full use of the overhead skylight, the architect had the entire light well clad in highly reflective tiles and covered the small indoor terrace of the ground floor flats in glass tiles. Can you notice that the color in the inner courtyard goes gradually from dark blue on top to light blue at the bottom (cobalt blue -> blue -> sky blue -> pearl grey -> white) and the size of the windows also goes from smaller to bigger from the top to the bottom? These changes are the result of Gaudí’s wish to control the entry of light into the building. The playing of light makes it possible for one to look up from the bottom of the well and feel the color is practically uniform. Also, the changing of the size of the windows creates an impression of acceleration of perspective when the well is seen from below and avoids the sensation of a deep well when seen from above. How ingenious isn’t it!
2.5 The loft (attic)
This attic is built by means of partitioned vaults of a parabolic section, plastered and painted white. Similar to the one in Casa Milà, this attic is a fine example of naturalism as the succession of catenary arches gives visitors the impression that they are in inside the thoracic cavity of a large animal, maybe the dragon we were talking about before? What’s more, the similarity lies in not only the appearance but also the function. This attic was used for storage and for washing and drying the laundry. I guess we could say that this attic is the model or ancestor of the attic in Casa Milà.
2.6 The roof terrace
To the top of Casa Batlló, he added a bulbous-shaped tower culminating in a fout-armed cross, decorated with the anagrams of the holy family, Jesus (JHS), Joseph (JHP) and Mary (M). The sculptural treatment of the chimneys and their covering with ceramic and painted glass show us, probably due to the collaboration with Jujol, Gaudí at his most colorist. If you take a closer look at the wall behind a line of chimneys, covered with ceramic pieces, doesn’t it look like the back bone of the legendary dragon?
Trying to make this building taller, Gaudí came up against the municipal guidelines. In order to safeguard his project while not breaking the law, he designed a curved roof with rhomboid tiles that resemble the sales of a dragon, and created a terrace at the corner with the neighboring Casa Amatller, so that the people could see the continuity of the two buildings.
No matter how much I say, you have to come here and discover this modernist, naturalist, symbolist and impressionist house by yourself. Everyone has his or her own interpretation of the symbols imbedded in Casa Batlló and I suggest that when you visit it, don’t think of yourself as a tourist or a visitor. Instead, imagine yourself as the owner of the house and I believe you will explore more and discover more. The video guide here is also different from the audioguides in other tourist attractions. It is more interactive and makes your visit more interesting and vivid.
From the ground level to the top of the building. In the lobby, steps, corridors, spacious rooms and attic space, you will see the limbs, the back and crest, the intestines, lung and stomach of the beast. Gaudí placed the backbones of this dragon at the top center of this landmark, defeated thoroughly with a lance-shaped tower surmounted by his characteristic four-armed cross, implying the triumph of the good over the evil.
This post is one of my 6 posts concerning the 7 Works of Antoni Gaudí protected by the UNESCO. If you are interested, please click on the following properties to read more about them.
- Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia
- Casa Mila
- Casa Batlló
- Park Güell
- Palau Güell
- Crypt in Colonia Güell and Casa Vicens