After a visit to Barcelona, you will inevitably take away with you one lasting impression about Antonin Gaudi after seeing some of his works dotted around the city – that he was a genius, and way ahead of his time. From the unfinished masterpiece that is the Sagrada Familia church, the wonderful Park Güell or the “Stone Quarry” of the Casa Mila, Gaudi’s work is unmistakeable. His father was an ironmonger and this is apparent in many of his works such as the downtown Palau Güell and the balconies of La Pedrera, but Gaudi also had an obsession to include as many natural forms in his buildings as possible.
Casa Battló stands proudly on Paseo de Gracia, number 43, just a few blocks away from La Pedrera. It is a relatively narrow building compared to some of the other magnificent edifices on Barcelona’s most exclusive street, but still manages to stand out amongst its neighbours. The facade is a colourful explosion of blues and greens and comparisons have been made to Monet’s water lilies painting, for example with the analogy that it appears as if a stone has been thrown into the water and the resulting ripples of colour are represented on the facade. The balconies here, too, are elaborated in wrought iron, each one cast in a single piece and earning the nickname “The house of Masks”. The frontal structure in sand coloured stone bears an immediate resemblance to bones – again Gaudi using natural forms in his work. Even the windows have earned the house another name “The house of yawns” due to their appearance as large open mouths.
As many people know, Gaudi didn’t leave any part of his work to custom, and this is perhaps most obvious here, with the magnificent roof. The patron saint of Catalonia is Saint George, and Gaudi pays homage to him, making the tiled roof of Casa Battló seem like the curved scales of the dragon’s back, complete with the cross of Saint George’s sword embedded in the back and protecting the old residence of the Battló family.
Visitors can follow an audio tour of the house which includes a tour of the first floors, the attic, the rooftop and chimneys which are accessible through the original elevator designed by Gaudi, or the huge, open stairwell which is tiled all the way to the huge skylight above.