One of several Modernista buildings on the Illa de la Discórdia (the Block of Discord) north of Barcelona’s old town, Casa Batlló looks like something out of a fairytale. The iridescent rooftop resembles the scaly spine of a dragon and the façade features funky shapes, fun colors, mask-shaped balconies (reminiscent of Mardi Gras)…and, pillars that look like bones. We call it the Chicken Bone House and it is, without a doubt, one of the most unique historical homes we’ve ever visited.
The magic of Casa Batlló is in the details – the whimsical, functional fluidity and organic nature of the design, the ergonomics of certain features, and use of color and glass to transmit light. Notice the cave-like rooms on the ground floor, the undulating walls and wooden stairway banister, the door handles, the panels of translucent glass that give the impression of being under water, and the distribution of light created by the varying depths of color in the blue tiles of the light well. Paying close attention to other details throughout the house, you may notice the wooden ventilation system and the levers for opening and closing the windows. But, what makes this a personal experience is that you are encouraged (as stated in the audio guide) to touch what you see; to feel the smoothness of the wood, the coolness of the tiles and the form-fitting design of the door handles and levers, which is quite remarkable considering that everything here has been custom-made specifically for this property. This alone almost justifies the high price of admission and it’s impressive, too, considering that the property is over 100 years old.
The building was originally constructed in 1877 and later purchased by Josep Batlló i Casanovas, a prominent businessman in the textile industry. The Batlló family lived here for decades and it was through them that Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi received the commission to ‘rebuild’ what would become known as Casa Batlló. Wanting a house that would set them apart from the rest of the residents along the prestigious Passeig de Gràcia, the Batllós allowed Gaudi his creative freedom to design something ‘spectacular’. Renovations, rather than a complete rebuilding, took about 2 years (1904 – 1906) and resulted in something that truly is spectacular. Casa Batlló is one of 7 works by Antoni Gaudi listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Tours of the building are available and visitors can wander through the various levels from the ground floor Coach House/Coal Cellars, through the former residence of the Batlló family on the Noble Floor, up to the Lofts, and out onto the Roof Terrace. Although an expensive option in Barcelona, we highly recommend taking a tour of this unique building.
Casa Batlló is located at Passeig de Gràcia, 43 in the Eixample, a district of gridded streets, wide avenues and grand buildings. Get there with public transit – Bus: 7, 16, 17, 22, 24 and 28, or Metro L2, L3 and L4 to Passeig de Gràcia. If you prefer to walk, it’s a pleasant 10 minutes from Plaza de Catalunya.
Adult admission = 20,35€ (includes audio guide)
Lines can be long, so consider purchasing your ticket via the online ticketing service at the Casa Batllo website Note: booking fee of 3.60€ applies for online ticket purchases