Sunday, March 4, 2012

Palau Guell

A (long) while ago Pau and I decided to go visit Palau Guell since neither of us had ever been there but I hadn't had a chance to write about it before now.

Palau Guell is another Antoni Gaudi project, which is located in Barcelona just off La Rambla not too far from the Mediterranean. It was commissioned by Eusubi Guell (who also had Gaudi design several other properties for him including the Church at Colonia Guell -- one of my favorites) as the Guell-family residence.

The street in front of the house is somewhat narrow so taking a good photo is difficult but this gives an idea of the scale:

Gaudi used a ton of different materials when building the house including lots of iron work some of which can be seen on the front gates and ornamentation:

The house was renovated over the last couple of years and just reopened for tours recently. The entire eight floors (counting the basement and roof) are open to the public Once you go in through the front door, you have a choice to continue straight ahead and down to the basement horse stables or up the stairs to the residence. This hallway, which connects the front of the house to the stable area looks like it's covered with ceramic tiles but the "tiles" are actually the ends of wooden boards sticking up out of the floor. This design was used to muffle the sound of the horses' hooves.

Continuing down the ramps, you come to the basement horse stable area. It's beautiful because of the use of brick and for the shapes of the columns and ramps. In my opinion, some of Gaudi's coolest details are ones like these where they aren't flashy but rather cool for art's (or structural) sake.

A shot of Pau petting the "dog" on our way out of the basement (note the use of catenary arches here by Gaudi):

As I mentioned, if you go the other way from the front door you're led up a set of stairs to the mezzanine level of the house's living space. Going up these steps, I really had the feeling that I was entering a castle. I'm guessing that these houses were the McMansions of their time.

There are a couple of features that really struck me when visiting the Palau Guell. One was the incredible wooden ceilings that are in a couple of the rooms. This one's kinda' hard to make out but I wanted to show it from the bottom of the stairs to give it some perspective. The ceiling work in this area (the antichamber, I believe) is probably about two feet "deep" and super detailed:

The next room you enter has a ceiling that's even more complex. This one was a combination of wood and iron work and was impressive to say the least (note the cool shape of the window openings as well):

After a couple of more rooms you walk out onto a balcony on the back of the house. I liked this unusual external window covering that's a combination of metal, wood, and tile:

The highlight of the house is the central hall, which has a ceiling that's over two stories high. The domed roof has a series of glass skylights that create the effect of what I'd call a starry night. This space was used for entertaining guests and includes a large steel-pipe organ towards the top of the room.

As with La Pedrera, Gaudi didn't slouch on the design of the attic utility area. This space, used as the laundry, kitchen, staff quarters, and storage for the house, has an undulating roof and some cool stained-glass windows:

Also like La Pedrera, the roof is an important part of the tour because Gaudi has made the house's 20 chimneys into an important part of the design of the building. The center-most, cone-shaped tower with the weather vane on top of it has a series of glass-covered openings that provide the light into the central hall below. From the roof deck, you can see a lot of the local area of the city including the cathedral and the Santa Maria del Mar church.

Thanks to Pau for hanging out for the day. Seeing the building was great but the kebabs we ate before going in weren't. :-) Next time, we'll pick a different place to eat!


  1. Wow! What a great building and as usual...really nice pictures! Were definitly going there next time in Bcn.

    1. barcalena - Thanks! It'll be nice to have some new barcalena stories... :-)


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