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(English) Palacio Güell, Gaudí’s magnificent oriental masterpiece

By | 25 January, 2019 | 0 comments

Barcelona owes a huge part of its architectural prestige and fame to the genius that was Antonio Gaudí. One building that’s perhaps not as well-known as his other works, but perfectly reflects his world-renowned style, is Palacio Güell. Here, the Reus-born maestro perfectly combined all the features of Catalan modernism with some more oriental styles, and with it created a home for one of the wealthiest families in late 19th century Catalan society.

Palacio Güell

Eusebio Güell played a fundamental role in Gaudí’s professional career, commissioning him to design a multitude of great buildings.  But one of his very first commissions was the construction of their family residence, Palacio Güell. At the time, in 1886, Gaudí didn’t have a great deal of experience, and had not yet developed the signature style that would lead him to such glory.  Testament to this are the various artistic solutions employed throughout the building, in up to twenty-five different styles in fact, which can be seen all over the building’s façade. Despite initial doubts, the result was a modernist building adapted to a domestic setting with all the features of oriental style, but without losing any of the shapes, colours or materials that came to mark Gaudí’s personal and unique style.

Located on Calle Nou de la Rambla, Palacio Güell’s façade is an impressive three-story Garraf-stone building, with two large wrought-iron gates capable of welcoming any guests arriving on horseback. It was designed and used as the noble family’s main residence, until they eventually moved to their new home in Parque Güell. For the interior design, the architect combined spaces where shapes and materials seemingly come to life, with innovative artistic solutions for adapting to busy social and family life. The palace was always a place where the high and mighty of Catalan society would meet, as well as serving as the main residence of the Güells and their 10 children. The Mudejar decoration throughout is especially noticeable on the ceilings, which are carved in wood and iron. But the cherry on top of this truly unique building has to be the roof. Its design is reminiscent of Casa Milà, with a surface area of 400m2 and featuring six large chimneys decorated in striking ceramics.

After Güell’s death

Upon the death of Eusebio Güell, the palace passed into the hands of his heirs. Although the family received several lucrative offers to sell the building over the years, Güell’s daughter decided to hand it over to Barcelona City Council in exchange for a lifetime pension for herself, along with a commitment to maintain its current structure and use for cultural purposes in the city.

After various renovation projects over the years, Palacio Güell was finally opened to the public in 2001. Currently, it is open every day except Mondays and bank holidays, with an entry price of €12. Thanks to the generosity of the Güell family, and the trust they placed in Gaudí, Palacio Güell is one of the main cultural sites in Barcelona with activities and concerts organised for a range of different audiences, not forgetting its heritage value for the enjoyment of all visitors and residents in this great city.

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