Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni Gaudi

Casa Batlo Barcelona Gaudi

“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.” –  Antoni Gaudi

The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain“…

… was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited and having completed that I thought I might come up with a personal alternative twelve.

The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi has a rightful place in the official list for his unfinished cathedral the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona but I make no apologies for including him again at no. eight in my alternative Top Twelve  Treasures but this time highlighting some of his other work and most of all my personal favourite the Casa Batlló.

I visited Barcelona in 2005 before I had really heard about or fully appreciated the architecture of Antoni Gaudi so this place came as a real surprise.  I had already visited the Park Guell, an imaginative but unfinished garden city and on a second sightseeing day I was walking along the Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district of Barcelona and heading for the Casa Milà when across the street I saw the most amazing building that I have ever seen that turned out to be the Casa Batlló, recently restored as a museum and open to the public.

Casa Batlló, Barcelona…

Casa Batlo Barcelona Gaudi

Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet was a Catalan architect who belonged to the Modernist Art Nouveau movement and was famous for his unique style and highly individualistic designs.  He designed Casa Batlló, in a prosperous middle class district of Barcelona, for a wealthy city Aristocrat who was carrying out a refurbishment of the property that had originally been built in 1877.  The lower levels of the house were designed for the owner and the upper floors were for renting and the refurbishment took place between 1905 and 1907.

Casa Batlló is a unique and fabulous building that defies any sort of description and is a building that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.  From the road outside the building looks stunning and the local name for the building is Casa dels ossos, literally the House of bones and the building has a visceral, skeletal organic quality.  Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that begins in shades of golden orange and moves and merges harmoniously into greenish blues.

Casa Batlo 1

It is a wonderful riot of style and outrageous architectural ideas and designs and stepping inside is like being given the privilege of sharing the inside of the mind of a genius.  Every room is a treasure and the attention to detail is immaculate.  The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.  It seems that Gaudi’s objective was to avoid straight lines completely.

My favourite part of the building was the roof with its forest of coloured chimneys decorating a terrace which is arched and is likened by students of Gaudi to the backbone of a dragon.  A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the sword of Saint George the patron saint of Catalonia, which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

Antoni Gaudi, Architect and Eccentric…

Like a lot of artistic people Gaudi tended towards eccentricity and because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up as he walked about the city for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare.  On 7th June 1926 Gaudi was run over by a tram and because no one recognised him he was taken to a pauper’s hospital.  His friends found him the next day but when they tried to move him into a better hospital, Gaudi refused, reportedly saying “I belong here among the poor.”  He died three days later on 10th June and was buried in the midst of his Cathedral, La Sagrada Família which even now remains unfinished and is due for completion in 2026, one hundred years after his death.

Antoni Gaudi Comillas Cantabria Spain

More posts about Antoni Gaudi:

Catalonia, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi

Twelve Treasures of Spain, La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Cantabria, Comillas and Antoni Gaudi

Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Park Guell, Barcelona

Gaudi Dragon Park Guell

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34 responses to “Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni Gaudi

  1. It’s become cliched before I’ve even got there, Andrew, but I would still very much love to see Barcelona. Off to Madrid soon? Looking forward to the photos.

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  2. When I went to parc guell the gift shop had a great pop up book of gaudi’s life for children. I flicked through the pages and the last one showed him being squashed by a pop up tram with blood squirting everywhere – gruesome!

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  3. I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it, but I wonder if that’s where the adj. “gaudy” comes from… 😉

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  4. To me Gaudi is unique. I didn’t get to see all his brilliant works of art (because that is what they were), but the Sagrada Familia was top on my list of Barcelona must-dos. And then, there were other wonderful pieces dotted around the city. Didn’t do the Parc de whotsit either, but still, wonderful imagination for the works I did see.

    Oh, and I’ve read Lee’s Red Sky at whatever. Think I even wrote a review. A good one to read for a forthcoming Spanish trip or two. I love the one where he travels to London, works on a construction site and then wanders down through Spain. Ojala.

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    • Yes, good story but perhaps a bit far fetched. He has just walked from Vallodolid to Segovia in what seems a couple of days!
      I liked Gaudi but not Barcelona – I was robbed there – my own fault for being careless but I wouldn’t go back all the same!

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      • There was quite a bit of criticism about the third book in the trilogy basically being a work of fiction, let alone far-fetched.
        I found what I wrote about it (a couple of years ago) – http://wp.me/p1XwsS-s5 – but I thought I had written more than that. Odd. Because someone offered to send me A Rose in Winter, but can’t find the comment about it! Maybe I dreamed it …

        Yeah, Barcelona didn’t feel particularly safe. I didn’t think the Ramblas was any great shakes either. Not a city I would rush back to, but apart from Madrid, I tend to like the Andalucían cities.

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      • Thanks for the link. I am enjoying reading the trilogy although I did skip ‘Cider with Rosie’ – like you I remember it from school!

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      • A read the first two (he’d not done Cider with Rosie at school), but got bored after the middle one and didn’t manage the civil war one. It seems two out of three ain’t bad.

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      • Did you ever find ‘Homage to Catalonia’? I bought it recently but haven’t read it yet.
        Forgot to say that I enjoyed your link to that FP masterpiece!

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      • Probably not. Suppose I had better retry the library, when I have exhausted their supply of Jack Higgins. I’m thinking about Thatcher’s autobiog/bio or whatever it is next 😀

        I’m thinking about a new series. A weekly ‘The Best of the Worst of FP’ or ‘The Worst of the Best of the WP blogs..’ You get the idea.

        I could write an amazing critique for each one eg Boring. Poor style. Bad grammar. Too many clichés. Unoriginal. Vile theme. I think I’ll get right onto it. Maybe after breakfast.

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      • I look forward to it!

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  5. It’s great when an artist/architect is able to contribute so much to a city’s reputation and, dare I say, even transform its feel.

    Utzon did it for Sydney, Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum is the only reason most visitors choose Bilbao. Even Gaudi’s imitator Hundertwasser has done much to make Vienna less pompous and more fun.

    City fathers take note; these things are worth the investment and the controversy.

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    • In Vienna Kim made me walk miles to see some Hundertwasser and I’m not entirely sure it was worth the blisters!
      You are right about Gaudi though – he does seem to stand for Barcelona!

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  6. I know I keep repeating myself, but I love this architecture!

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  7. Hi Andrew, Really great post. I love seeing Casa Batlo from the inside-out through your eyes. It truly is a gorgeous structure. Do you know if Gaudi created the stained glass, or was it the work of someone else? All the best, Terri

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  8. Love it. Venice vs Gaudì … a tough challenge. Barcelona is just amazing!

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  9. Couldn’t resist a “revisit” now that I’ve actually been, Andrew. Funny how some places speak to you, isn’t it? I loved Batllo but my absolute favourite was Casa Mila. I guess I could picture myself living there in a way that I couldn’t with Batllo. Mick was the opposite. He thought Mila was a bit of a hodge podge. I could have stayed on that rooftop for the rest of my life. (ok, now I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean) 🙂

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  13. I agree with other comments on the Gaudi Trail in particular there simply wasn’t enough time. Though on my second visit to Spain we headed for Jerez and Cadiz, also to be highly recommended for their beauty and friendly local people.

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  14. Pingback: Catalonia, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi | Have Bag, Will Travel

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  17. Love your pictures. We saw some of the Gaudi work, but not nearly enough and your pics have me anxious to return.

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