The modern parts of Barcelona are a triumph of urban planning. We were staying in the Eixample district which was planned and built about one hundred and fifty years ago by a man called Ildefons Cerdà and is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues and square blocks with chamfered corners all of which means that the traffic always flows freely in a slick one-way system and it is easy to navigate on foot.
Tag Archives: Antoni Gaudi
I had always thought of Spain as a Mediterranean country but closer inspection of the map shows that a third of the Country’s coastline is along the much more dramatic Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian coast is over two hundred kilometres of panoramic beaches, hidden coves tucked into the pleats of the cliffs, green headlands and little towns where fishing boats shelter below harbour cafés.
“(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…
When we are away we usually make careful plans and are reasonably certain of where we are going and what we are going to see but it is always good to come across something unexpected.
On March 23rd 2013 we were staying in the Spanish town of Siguenza in Castilla-La Mancha. We had driven out of the town and visited the town of Molina de Aragon which on a desperately cold day had turned out to be rather a disappointment.
And so we left Molina de Aragon and headed back along the N-211 which is called the Ruta del Cid and the first village that we came to was Rillo de Gallo and there staring out over the main road was an unusual house.
Unless I was very much mistaken a Gaudi house but I was mistaken because it turned out to be a house built in the style of Antoni Gaudi and, I have to say, looking completely out of place within its surroundings.
This it turns out was the Capricho Rillano built by a Gaudi enthusiast Juan Antonio Martinez Moreno and substantially unfinished which made me wonder if it had the necessary planning or development consents?
So we pulled over, parked the car by the side of the road and walked to the house. It may not have been designed and built by the Catalan master himself but it was still wonderfully impressive.
I knew nothing of this place of course, it wasn’t in the guide books so I researched it later. Juan Antonio Martínez, a resident of Guadalajara, worked without sketches or plans, like Gaudí in his early days and he is not an architect, but an experienced builder.
The imposing façade is inspired by the great works of Barcelona and in particular the Casa Batlló with the same characteristics of pinnacles and helical columns, paraboloid domes, warped roofs of multi-coloured ceramics, iron bars and doors, of overflowing fantasy and even a terrible ceramic snake that climbs a corner of the façade along three floors and crawls onto the roof in the style of the dragon at Park Güell.
The serpent incidentally is based on a local myth about a gigantic snake which is supposedly as a big as a man and has been sighted regularly – presumably after closing time!
It was interesting to explore the exterior of the building (the doors were firmly locked) and observe the details, colourful mosaics that covered the form and shape of the building that used the trencadís technique of broken tile mosaics. In contrast to the sobriety of the adjacent buildings in the village, the tangled and impossible forms and the colours of this building were a welcome surprise.
I liked it. I don’t know if building a house in the style of Gaudi makes it a Gaudi house? I suspect probably not. I could paint a vase of sunflowers but it wouldn’t be a Van Gogh. I could write a play but it wouldn’t be a Shakespeare.
But I liked it all the same. I wonder what Gaudi himself would have made of it?
Having enjoyed the unexpected house we thought it only good manners to explore the village because it is said that El Cid himself passed this was on his way to Valencia. Actually, El Cid just like Don Quixote passed through every town and village in Spain, or so it seems.
I would like to be able to tell you that the place was spectacular but I am afraid that I can’t – it was dull and lifeless, cold for the Spanish, shirt sleeve weather for us and the streets were empty. We followed a map which cost me 80c at the Tourist Information Office (every town and village in Spain regardless of size has a Tourist Information Office it seems) and which showed all of the old town highlights but we didn’t find anything to take our breath away so we started to walk back and then heard some lively conversation from a bodega so we pushed the doors opened, spotted an empty table and went inside.
This explained why the streets were empty because the entire village was in here. It was wonderful and made the long drive absolutely worthwhile – a traditional bar with local Spanish wine and a plate of perfect sticky paella as complimentary tapas – and after we had finished we were very reluctant to leave but we needed to be back in Siguenza in time for the Santa Semana Easter Parade.
Click on an image to view the Gallery…
The Palau is an icon of modernist architecture in the city, if there were to be an arm wrestling competition with the Gaudi experience then this would hold its own for sure. It is an exercise in opulence, grand salons, tiled columns decorated to reflect nature and a concert hall that would surely distract any performer or spectator through a musical performance of any kind.
The Gaudi attractions can be frustrating to photograph because of the crowds and Casa Batlló is no exception so I gave up after a while and concentrated on detail where people couldn’t get in the way…
I am inspired today by my blogging Pal Jo who has completed a thirty one day challenge to post in pictures and in words about a visit to Barcelona.
In 2018 I visited Barcelona and my friend and keen photographer Richard spent every spare minute taking pictures of Sagrada Familia. I am convinced that he possesses the largest collection of pictures of the Gaudi masterpiece in the entire World.
I am quite unable to compete with either Jo or Richard so I offer you these alternative images.
These are from the walls of the nearby metro station…
This is from the beach at Barconaleta…
And this is from the inevitable gift shop…
Examining my statistics for 2020 I have looked at number of clicks and thought that I might share with you the pictures in my posts that have received the most views over the past twelve months. Yesterday I revealed 10 down to 6 and today I share the Top 5…
No. 5 – Map of World Showcase at Disneyworld, Florida – 50 clicks
It surprised me just how often map postcards have cropped up in my click statistics. This is from a post from December 2012 called Around the World in Eighty minutes about my visit to World Showcase in 1990.
No. 4 – Map of Malta – 69 clicks
Another map, this time from my post Malta – Sightseeing, a Church, a Cartoon and a Capital City which was posted in February 2013.
No. 3 – Spaghetti Harvest – 97 clicks
From a post of April 1st 2019 about the BBC Spaghetti Tree Hoax, a spoof television documentary about spaghetti crops in Switzerland.
No. 2 – Postcard Map of Northern Ireland – 119 clicks
And yet another map, this time from a post of June 2015 about preparation for a visit to Northern Ireland.
No 1 – Casa Batlló, Barcelona – 190 clicks
The second picture of Casa Batlló in Top Ten clicks but not one of my own pictures of course. I seem to remember that I scanned this picture from the travel section of The Sunday Telegraph newspaper. I used in a post about Antoni Gaudi in March 2013.
It baffles me why this picture tops the click parade, in 2020 it accounted for 12.25% of all picture clicks and in total since I posted it has 1,550 clicks which is 3.2% of the total of 48,500.
One final interesting statistic is that when I did a Google search on this image it has been lifted and used almost 150 times on other websights.
I confess that I like the WordPress Statistics.
At this time of the year I used to look back at my figures for the previous twelve months and write a post about my Top Ten most visited. I stopped last year because the idea had run out of steam, very few people were visiting back posts any longer and it was becoming repetitive as the same ten old posts kept cropping up.
This year I looked instead at number of clicks and thought that I might share with you the pictures in my posts that have received the most views over the past twelve months…
No. 10 – Gran Canaria Postcard Map – 39 clicks
This is a curious thing that I have discovered. People like postcard maps. This is the first of a number of postcard maps that I have scanned and added to my posts. This was from April 2012 – My Personal A to Z of Spain, I is for Islands. I have always collected postcards, I am afraid that I cannot explain why, they are useful for posts but I don’t understand why they get so many clicks.
No. 9 – The Corpse of Lenin – 39 clicks
An interesting one this and easier to understand which I included in my post about visiting Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow in June 2012 imaginatively titled Russia, Lenin’s Mausoleum. I didn’t take this picture of course because cameras and mobile phones are strictly forbidden inside because the authorities don’t want snapshots of Comrade Lenin turning up on the internet on Pinterest or Trip Advisor reviews.
No. 8 – The Church at Mellihea in Malta – 43 clicks
Another postcard scan this time from a post in May 2015 titled Malta, Happiness and a Walk to Mellieha. No idea why because I have much better postcard pictures than this on my blog.
No. 7 – Casa Batlló in Barcelona – 46 clicks
At least it is one of my own pictures although clearly not one of my best. I posted this in May 2010 – Casa Batlló, Barcelona.
What I find interesting is that if you Google Casa Batlló looking for a picture to use there are literally hundreds of really good pictures, surprising then that this rather ordinary one has been lifted and used in 25 other web pages and sites.
No. 6 – Ring of Kerry, Ireland Map – 47 clicks
Although it could be mistaken for a postcard this is one of my own pictures but it is another map. These tourist maps were at various stages on the drive around the Ring of Kerry so I snapped this and included it in my post Ring of Kerry and I Temporarily Overcome My Fear of Dogs.
Tomorrow I reveal the Top five!
Always, at this time of the year I spend some time looking at my statistics. This year I have been looking back over eleven years to find my Top Five most visited posts…
Number 5 – Catalonia, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi
First posted – August 2013
Total visits – 16,792
Best Year – 2015, 8,717 visits
Consistently recording hundreds of visits each year
2020 – 194 visits
First posted – April 2010 in a series about a holiday to Sorrento
Total visits – 18,183
Best Year – 2013, 4,213 visits
A very steady performer and always in my annual Top 10
2020 – 376 visits
Number 3 – Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine
First posted – April 2010
Total visits – 18,287
Best Year – 2013, 5,016 visits
Did well for 4 years followed by a steady decline
2020 – 18 visits
I feel a repost coming on.
Number 2 – Royal Garden Party
First posted – June 2009
Total visits – 23.010
Best Year – 2015, 5,871 visits
Year after year, has always done well, especially in May when Palace invites go out.
2020 – 212 visits
Number 1 – Haugesund and The Vikings
First posted – March 2011
Total visits – 24,710
Best Year – 2012, 14,773 visits
It took me a while to understand this but then I found out that people in USA were searching for Minnesota Vikings Football and being directed to my post. Google put that right and the visits bombed immediately.
2020 – 9 visits
Thanks everyone for reading and Have a Happy New Year.