Barcelona has been one of my favourite destinations for many years and for many different reasons. For my first solo trip in a long time I decided to go back in search of art, culture and food – ditching my usual approach of chasing tanlines. Long overdue, I invited Gaudí into my life on day one and just like that I was captivated… I always had a weakness for a man with a vision and this time it was love at first sight.
Although I bought a Hola Barcelona! pass for public transport, I walk everywhere. When I explore a place by foot, I experience a lot more: the genuine chatter and laughter of the streets, the little details of the façades, fashion and style and all the one of a kind boutiques. On my first full day I head to Casa Battló which happens to be situated on Paseo de Gracia, a street filled with flagships of the most luxurious fashion brands from Chanel and Chopard to Prada and Montblanc. Luxury window-shopping is a form of entertainment that lets me get an insight into contemporary matters. It fuses heritage with the ultra-modern. Paseo de Gracia is an open-air art gallery of modern luxury.
I end up spending ages admiring windows until I find myself in a sea of people snapping pictures of the unique blend of stone, glass and ceramics on the exterior of Casa Battló. There I am, just about to fall in love with Gaudí.
The façade is illuminated by the bright sunshine that brings a unique glow and sparkle to life; a harmonic and balanced motion, as if it were a living element of the urban landscape. When you enter the building, you enter the architect’s mind – a madness of colour, a whirlwind of living art, a true masterpiece.
“Casa Batlló is a proclamation of joy, a canvas of marine inspiration, a dream world that evokes nature and fantasy.”
The Patio of Light
Light and colour are brought together in a majestic way in the building. As I enter the Patio of Light my eyes meet more than just shades of aquamarine: it is an architectural interpretation of the Mediterranean sea. I look through the crooked windows and see the waves. As I go higher in the building the painted blue tiles darken and the windows get smaller. I am stunned. If you’ve ever seen the surface of the azure sea from down under, you know exactly what Gaudí knew.
The dragon’s back
I reach the roof through The Patio of Light so I am already high on Gaudí’s wild imagination. But then he pulls another rabbit out of his hat and raises the bar even higher. How can anybody possibly dream up anything like this? – I ask myself as I’m writing an invitation for Antonio to one of my imaginary dinner parties.
The top of the façade resembles the skin of a reptile, brought to life with a giant mosaic of colourful broken tiles. As I look behind the roof there is a marble four-arm sward, towering over Casa Batlló, pointing to the four quarters of the sky.
I wonder why. Well, legend has it that Saint George killed the dragon with his four-arm sword to save the princess and the people from the animal’s wrath. So, the roof’s design symbolises a sword embedded in the dragon, and the bone-shaped columns commemorate its victims. I now understand why Casa Batlló has been known as the house of bones or the house of the dragon throughout history. Regardless of urban legends and stories, the roof is breath-taking.
I walk the building with the official audio guide and I really enjoy all the little details and stories behind each and every detail. As I reach the roof and snap my pictures, I sit down with a glass of ice-cold Cava, and listen to the entire audio-guide one more time.
I spend nearly 3 hours in Casa Batlló, walking the rooms and learning its history – what an inspiration and absolute mastermind of a man! Sat in the sunshine on the roof of the casa is just the perfect start of another holiday in Barcelona. From here I’ll head to Park Güell to continue my love affair with Gaudí whilst I’m on a high. Oh wait, but first, tapas!
…and a couple more snaps from the tour: