Casa Battló: Gaudí or Gaudy?

Walking along the Grand Via, we spotted a large crowd lining up along the sidewalk. As the tree cover parted we found ourselves in front of a building that we instantly recognized as a Gaudí design. The walls were covered with stunning mosaics and the windows looked like masks or the eyes of a serpent. It was Battlo House, designed by Gaudi. Casa Battló is considered one of Gaudí's greatest masterpieces. Even though the admission rate was expensive (35 - 50 Euros), we knew we had to take a tour.

Gaudí's unique style is evident throughout. His vision was the house as a dragon, with the stairway as the spine of the beast. Originally a private home, Casa Batlló became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Exterior columns look bone-like.

Upon entering the grand lobby of the house we were immediately surrounded by incredible detail. The stairway looks like a spinal column, the banister knob looks like kelp. Incredible light fixtures look different from every angle. The area was filled with light from the many windows, stained glass door inserts and the stunning stairwell open to the top floor. To enhance the feeling of height and closeness to the sky the tile deepens in colour and the windows get smaller closer to the roofline.

Gaudí believed in letting in as much natural light as possible. All the hallways and family bedrooms were surrounded by windows. The living room doors had stained glass above, again with colourful glass and swirling patterns. Note the "scales" on the wall.

The ceiling design was either a water droplet or female breasts, according to which Gaudí expert is consulted. Based upon my knowledge of human anatomy, I'm going with the water droplet theory.

The dining room was large and opened up into the back garden. Part of the design of the space included these strangely placed columns. It seems pretty certain that Gaudí didn't consider function as important as design in this room.


The back view of the house is almost plain in comparison to the front.

We made our way up to the attics, where servants lived and did the household laundry. The hallways were surprisingly bright and airy.

Finally we got the flat roof, perfect for enjoying the evening on a beautiful day. Casa Battló offers a special night visit including drinks on the roof deck. Gaudí knew that this would be a popular spot and made sure to decorate the chimneys, too.

It's on the roof that the dragon design becomes very obvious. The scales and spine of the dragon rises above the doorways and around the chimneys.

It's impossible to visit Barcelona and avoid Gaudí, nor is there any reason anyone would want to. The unique vision of this incredible artist deserves a deep dive when visiting the city. Casa Battló is a very spendy ticket but no exploration of Gaudi would be complete without a visit to Casa Battló. So, what do you think? Is Gaudí's work gaudy or beautiful?


 

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