In the centre of the Eixample neighbourhood is the Quadrat d’Or (Golden Square), between Aribau and Passeig de Sant Joan, and between Diagonal and the Rondas. This part of the neighbourhood is home to buildings by such famous architects as Puig i Cadafalch, Domènech i Montaner, and Gaudí himself, all masters of modernism. A walk through these streets invites you to contemplate the greatest architectural legacy of the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. A true outdoor trip through modernism.
«La Manzana de la Discordia» (Bloc of Discord)
This is the name (A pun on the Spanish word, “manzana”, which means both “block of houses” and “apple”) given to the block between Aragó and Consell de Cent on Passeig de Gràcia in the direction heading towards Gràcia. It gathers three of the city’s best examples of modernist architecture, each one built by one of the best architects of the time. Because of their proximity to one another, and the potential competition that could result between them, it is known as the Apple (Block) of Discord. The construction or remodelling of these three houses by Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch, and Domènech i Montaner resulted in the definitive launching of Passeig de Gràcia as one of the city’s major arteries. The wealthiest bourgeois lived in the ground floor of these houses, with wealthy families also occupying the remaining flats.
Casa Batlló 1
One of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces and an architectural jewel, this house was built between 1904 and 1906. Popularly known as “The carnival” or the “House of Bones” its exterior combines filigree in stone with colourful ceramics, glass, and iron balconies that take on a special charm at night with their perfect lighting. Behind the modernist façade, the interior spaces are a succession of artistic and architectural details designed by Gaudí with the utmost creativity and carried out by the period’s best artists and professionals.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43.
Phone: 932 160 306.
Metro: L3 Passeig de Gràcia
Opening Hours: From 9:00 to 20:00 (last entry) daily.
Casa Amatller 2
This house takes its name from a chocolate manufacturer who acquired it in 1898 and hired the brilliant architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch to remodel it. It’s located right next to Casa Batlló and it’s an urban palace whose modernist façade includes details from the Catalan Gothic and flemish styles.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 41.
Casa Lleó i Morera 3
A work by the well-known modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, located on Passeig de Gràcia, on the same block as Casa Batlló and Casa Ametller, at the corner of Carrer Consell de Cent. The decoration of the façade invokes certain traces of Wagner, very typical of the era in which the building was constructed (1902).
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 35
La Pedrera 4
La Casa Milà, popularly known as “La Pedrera” because of its stony exterior, was designed by Gaudí in 1905 and built between 1906 and 1910. It has an impressive, undulating stone façade, with iron also playing a big role. Currently a visit to La Pedrera includes two areas of the building: the Espai Gaudí, and The Flat, which recreates a bourgeois apartment from the time of construction.
The spaces inside are adapted for exhibitions and concerts. There are guided visits, and the roof is straight out of a lush fantasy. During the summer months, open-air concerts are held here.
Address: Provença, 261-265.
Phone: 934 845 900.
Metro: L3 and L5 Diagonal
Bus: 7, 16, 17, 22, 24 and 28.
Barcelona Bus Turístic and Barcelona City Tour: La Pedrera.
Opening Hours: From March to October, 9:00 to 20:00 daily.
Services: Audio guide, bookstore, and shop on the ground floor with interesting design objects for a unique gift.
La Casa de les Punxes 5
Also known as Casa Terrades after the ex-owners’ surname, this building was designed in the modernist style in 1905 by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. The property has the look of a small medieval palace, with elements reminiscent of European gothic architecture. The name punxes (“spikes” in Catalan) comes from the six towers crowned by cone-shaped roofs. The façade is decorated with floral shapes in stone and typically modernist balconies; another characteristic is the use of brick with decorative ceiling roses, and the presence of Sant Jordi, patron saint of Catalonia. In 1975 it was declared a National Historic Monument. Because it is private property, visits inside the house are not available.
Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 420.
Metro: L3 Diagonal. L5 Diagonal and Verdaguer.
Bus: 6, 15, 20, 33, 34 39, 45, 47.
Casa Thomas 6
It is often said that in Barcelona one has to look up towards the sky to realize the wonderful architecture that grace some of its buildings. Such is the case with the Casa Thomas, conceived by Lluís Domènech i Montaner on commission from Josep Thomas, printer who set up his workshop on the ground floor, leaving the first floor as living space. Domènech i Montaner’s son-in- law, Francesc Guàrdia, subsequently expanded the building, adding the three upper floors but adhering to the same architectural style. The façade displays spectacular decoration that summarizes the modernist style.
Address: Mallorca, 291-293.
Casa Sayrach 7
At the corner of Diagonal and Enrique Granados, Casa Sayrach represents one of the last buildings in the modernist style erected in Barcelona. It was built in 1918 and although Gabriel Borrell signed off on the work, it is attributed to the architect and writer Manuel Sayrach, the project developer’s son. The curvilinear design of some elements of the façade bears a clear influence from Gaudí, in a building with clear symmetry to the main axis located right on the corner.
Address: Av. Diagonal, 423-425.
La Casa Asia or Palau de Quadras 8
La Casa Asia, a social headquarters for the promotion of Asian and Pacific culture, moved into the modernist Baró de Quadras Palace in 2003. The architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch was commissioned by the Baron of Quadras for the refurbishment of a previous building, which he undertook between 1902 and 1904. The refurbishment was so profound that only a few elements of the original building were preserved. This building organised as a gothic Barcelona palace is worth a visit. It has a central patio and the residence surrounds the patio. But the truly important aspect of this building is not the organizational frame of the residence, but rather the painstaking decoration, not only of the interiors, but also of its two façades, one on Avinguda Diagonal, and other on Rosselló Street. The main façade at Avinguda Diagonal is 12 metres wide, and the ornamentation of the first-floor gallery is reminiscent of the plateresque style. The main door, as well as the one on Rosselló Street, is made of forged steel and glass.
Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 373.
Metro: L3 and L5 Diagonal.
Ramón Montaner Palace 9
Very close to Passeig de Gràcia, on the corner of Mallorca at Roger de Llúria, is a curious little palace called “Palau Ramon Montaner”, an eclectic mix of Italian palazzo and modernism. It was commissioned to Josep Domènech i Estapà in 1889 and continued by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The interior combines multicoloured decoration with a grand staircase in the middle of the central patio. It is currently the headquarters of the Government Delegation, and guided tours are given.
Address: Mallorca, 278.
Opening Hours: Guided tours in English, Saturdays at 10:30.