A Look into Barcelona´s Most Famous Architecture Movement
Antoni Gaudí is probably the only figure that you will ever heard of besides the full cast members of Barcelona Football Club. With so many spectacular works of architectures, it is undoubtedly easy to acknowledge how he rose to fame. But did you know that he was not the person who invented this whole style of art but just part of a big popular wave of artists?
My story to the discovery of the Catalan architecture was an embarrassing one. Upon arriving to Barcelona, as any clueless person uneducated about local culture would, I went around commenting to many of my Catalan friends: ¨Hey! This is very Gaudí-ish” only to be corrected by the prideful locals that these styles of artworks had a name: Modernisme (or Modernism if you didn´t get it). I was told that Gaudí, while having very brilliant and innovative, was just a part of a big creative collective.
So, how did it all start? Catalan Modernism has a fun origin that can still be reflected upon the current culture that we all are still seeing now. Influenced by the strong nationalism, it was a movement in search of a new entitlement of Catalan culture, vocalizing its existence to the world. Although Mondernisme was part of a general trend the emerged throughout Europe, Catalan Modernisme has taken its own name in the history with its unique personality.
Today, let´s not speak of Gaudí because you probably have heard enough about him. We shall explore other prominent artists who have also played a big part in this grand architectural scheme that made Barcelona, and many parts of Catalunya how it is today.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner was one of the first to kick off this movement. If you´ve been to Parc de la Ciutadella to soak up on some sun, you probably have noticed a strange castle standing near the entrance of the park from the Arc´s side. The work, named Castell dels tres Dragons (Castle of the Three Dragons), was orchestrated by Domènech i Montaner and the earliest architecture of the movement.
Domènech i Montaner´s work combine structural rationality with extraordinary ornamentation inspired by Hispano-Arabic architectural tradition and by the curves typical of Modernisme. They were considered to be the vanguards and modules for many more artists to come.
However, he didn´t just stop there, his skills in architecture became more honed and went on to give birth to some of the most famous attractions in Barcelona. Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Paul were both historical landmarks of Barcelona and have been declared by UNESCO to be World Heritage.
Puig was one of those people who tried his hardest to separate himself from the giant totem that is called Gaudí. Their relations were not tense or problematic, since they have participated in the same projects before. However, you can see a great distinction that set Puig´s work apart from all his contemporaries. I, myself, adored what he has done to Casa de les Punxes (Castle of Thorns). It is intelligently built with the medieval castle style of Northern Europe while differentiating itself by the architect´s own artistry and creativity.
Casa Amatller is another gem that you might luckily discover while wandering the streets of Barcelona. The structure really has an authenticity like no others. While not being famous as others, it still leaves a tremendous amount of impressions to the people who have had the chance to lay eyes on it.
Palau del Baró de Quadras is also one of those buildings, while not being so well-known, is a treat to all the architecture admirers.
If you have been to Montserrat, like myself, you probably have been convinced to come by looking at the pictures of Montserrat Sanctuary. It was one of Josep Maria Jujol I Gibert´s work and arguably one of his finest. The sanctuary, sitting on the solace of greatness that is called Montserrat, gives you that holy and peaceful feeling hard to come by anywhere else.
Jujol was also a close partner to Gaudí, having been the person to help the famous architect with many of his famous structures, notably Casa Batlló, Park Guell, Casa Milà.
These 3 artists are just the more prominent ones of their peers. I reckon if you´ll just aimlessly walk around the city, more hidden gems are certain to appear, waiting patiently for you to discover and learn about. Hopefully, after this article, you will have a totally different look on the structures that cover Barcelona, and Catalunya in general and understand the diversity and importance of one movement that had left a big mark on the modern history of the area.