El Caprichio – Antoni Gaudi in Cantabria

“(El Capricho) stands out for the Mudejar influence, for the alternation between the orientalist influence and medievalism and for the early appearance of elements corresponding to Gaudi’s later work” – The official guidebook.

In my previous post I told you about a Gaudi tribute house, today it is the real thing.

The entire town of Comillas is a declared historic/artistic site that in the nineteenth century was once popular with the Spanish monarchy and nobility who built many fine buildings and mansions there and is picturesque enough to get it hovering near to any top ten list of best small towns in Spain.

We drove into the old town where there were some fascinating buildings but none better than a rare example of the work of Antoni Gaudi, a mansion called El Capricho complete with a signature tile clad tower in the style of a minaret, playful ceramic sunflowers and whimsical stained glass images of animals playing instruments. From the outside it resembles a model made of lego building bricks.

It couldn’t happen could it? Well, maybe it could…

Gaudi rarely worked outside of Barcelona in Catalonia, he had enough work there after all to keep him busy and El Capricho is one of only three, the other two are The Episcopal Palace of Astorga and the Casa Botines in León in Castilla y León which is about the furthest that he ever got from Barcelona.

It was built in 1883 for a nobleman with the magnificent name of Máximo Díaz de Quijano who wanted an exotic villa in an oriental style and the really significant fact is that this was Gaudi’s very first commission.

There was a €7 admission charge which was a bit of a shock but having walked all the way through the town to find the place we went through with the transaction and made the visit to the house and the gardens and we were glad that we did. Kim may have got tired of towers, castles and cathedrals but she remains comfortable with palaces and Gaudi it seems.

Sadly Máximo Díaz de Quijano died before the work was completed.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…


24 responses to “El Caprichio – Antoni Gaudi in Cantabria

  1. Well worth the entry price


  2. I wonder if the Lego model,is more expensive than Gaudi paid to build the real thing all those years ago! It’s such a pity that we did not have an architect with Gaudi’s imagination. We could really do with him now!!


  3. There really is something of the Lego brick here, but it seems a charming place – and worth the seven euros – each – you had to fork out!


  4. I think you’re right Andrew – we don’t have anything to compare with Gaudi, or Miro for that matter, in the UK. Maybe the closest are the “follies” of rich eccentrics of bygone eras, but they aren’t in the same sphere of eccentricity and innovation. One of the measures of Gaudi’s work is that your first sight of it is so impactful that no matter how far you travel, you never forget the moment you first saw it.


  5. I can’t believe they have it in Lego! 🙂 🙂 Should I put it on my Christmas list, I wonder? I’d like to see this place, Andrew, but not sure I’ll be wandering in that direction any time soon.


  6. Your usual fine photographic record


  7. We visited this Gaudi building years ago. Thanks for the reminder.


  8. I had no clue about this. Wonderful and thank you.


  9. Such an incredibly fertile imagination! My fav was the crow playing chop-sticks, Andrew. (Or whatever) Laughed about the Legos. –Curt


  10. What a great building!


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