Thursday, 19 April 2018

Barcelona: A Modernisme walk along Avenida Diagonal

Casa des Punxes (House of the Spires)

We were staying in the excellent Ohla Eixample Hotel and naturally decided to explore the art nouveau buildings on our doorstep. The Eixample district was developed from around 1900 on a grid pattern - the name (pronounced i-sham-play) means extension. The most celebrated building on this walk was the Casa des Punxes (above), but there were many other delights and some wonderful surprises.

Our first port of call was the Casa Sayrach at Diagonal 423, attricuted to Manual Sayrach i Carreras. It dates from 1918 and the curvy facade seems to owe a debt to Gaudí.

Further along and just in Rambla de Catalunya on the right was Casa Serra, built by Josep Puig i Catafalch in 1903. It is now rather dwarfed by a modern extension added in 1987.

Further along Diagonal we reached the Palau del Baro de Quadras (1904, again by Josep Puig i Catafalch). The exterior is rather unappealing, I thought, but the arabic style interior is said to be well worth a visit. It was closed, however, so we were denied that.

Opposite, at Diagonal 422, is Casa Comalat. It dates from 1909-11 and is the work of Salvador Valeri i Popurull, one of Barcelona's less well-known Moderista architects. The front is fairly conservative, although the lower balconies have a very fluid appearance, but the rear facade, on Carrer Corsega, is something else altogether, with strange arches, exquisite ceramic tiling and a rippling effect.

Further along Av Diagonal at number 416-420 is the famous Casa des Punxes (House of the Spires - originally Casa Terrada). It was built in 1905 by the celebrated architect Josep Puig i Catafalch for Sr Terrada and is effectivey three houses, one for each of his daughters. One of the ceramic panels on a gable depicts St George.

 Nowadays the building houses a rather impressive presentation of the legend of St George, with more than aint of Game of Thornes. Apart from being the patron saint of Catalunya, St George also plays that role for England, Portugal and Georgia, among others.

In truth there is not much in the way of original features inside the part of the building you can visit, but the roof is pretty impressive.

We enjoyed many details on the exterior, for example this window ... 

... and were delighted to be able to slip into one of the other entrances and see some of the beautiful internal decorative scheme.

A bit further on, on Passeig de Sant Joan is an earlier house by Josep Puig i Catafalch, the Casa Macaya of 1901. This has medieval as well as Moderisme elements.

The courtyard is especially splendid.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: about three miles

Rating: four and a half stars.

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