Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Barcelona: Arc de Triomf, Born, Palau Guell, La Rambla

The Arc de Triomf

We've just arrived in Barcelona and we thought we would start with a mixture of new and old. One of our key objectives is to see as much as possible of the Ruta del Modernisme (Modernisme, or Art Nouveau, Trail). It starts from the Arc de Triomf so we naturally headed off there. The Arc de Triomf was built as the gateway to the 1888 Universal Exhibition which was held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The architect was Josep Vilaseca.

The first port of call on the Ruta del Modernisme was the Casa Estape in Passeig de Sant Joan (1907 by Bernard Martorelli i Rius). It is hard to get a clear view of the whole of it, but the decoration under the windows viewed from direct1y below is a delight.

No 2, in Avinguda di Valencia, is the red brick Hidroelectrica (electricity company offices) in Av de Vilanova (1896-9 by Pere Falques i Urpi).

We headed through the arch and down to the park. On the right, but more easily seen from the other side because of restoration works, was the famous Castell dels tres Dragons (the castle of three dragons). It was originally built, by Luis Domenech i Montaner as the restauramt for the Universal Exhibition, but later became the zoology museum and gained its present name in the 1920s.

A couple of other park structures are counted as Modernisme but did not impress us. Leaving the park, we entered the district known as El Born. I had been told by a friend that this area was worth a visit as it is on the up and has interesting restaurants. We were very taken with the former Market building if 1887 which is now the Centre for Culture and Memory. We had a nice tapas lunch in a small square opposite.

We wandered through the Born which was largely pedestrianised and had a somewhat Venetian feel to it. We we emerged onto via Ferran and headed towards La Rambla, passing the former Molly's Bar with some nice Modernisme elements.

Soon we had reachd our main target of the day: the Palau Guell, the first work by the great Antoni Gaudi.  The outside is reasonably plain, but notable for the caternary arches. We gradually came to realise that the stone and iron elements were a feature throughout.

Inside it is full of wonders, starting with the astonishing brick pillars in the cellar, originally the stables. They could have been the crypt of an ancient brick church.

On the first floor is an extraordinary high room ...

... with an remarkable small chapel off it (the Guell family were very devout).

Some of the interior decoration is quite remarkable.

The roof could only be by Gaudi with its strange columns and pillars many covered by ceramics.    

When we had recovered, we headed back to La Rambla and headed towards Plaza Catalunya, noting a few nice but minor Modernisme buildings as we passed.  This is Casa Doctor Genove at number 77.

 And this is Antiga Casa Figueras at number 83.

Conditions: sunny and mild.

Distance: three miles?

Rating: fours stars.

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