Sunday, September 20, 2015

Casa Lleo Morera

Just up from Plaza Catalunya, on Passeig de Gracia, is a block called la Manzana de la Discordia (literally the "apple of discord" but meaning something like "the mismatched block") where there are several Modernist buildings. The most famous of which is Casa Batllo and next door to that is the lesser-known but also beautiful Casa Amatller. At the other end of the block is the Casa Lleo i Morera, which was just renovated and opened to the public not too long ago. Again, using our local's 50% off coupons (got love that stuff), we went for a guided tour.

It's a bit hard to tell in this photo but the building's facade is full of sculptures of things like dragons, flowers, and even high-tech items of the day such as the camera, the phonograph, and the telephone. If they did the building today, they'd probably only have to have a sculpture of a smartphone.

It's been a while since I've written a story about a particular house or building but this one merits it. Like its neighbors, the house started out as an older, much plainer building. Remodeled in 1902 by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, who also did the incredibly-ornate Hospital Sant Pau, the Hotel EspaƱa, and the even-more-incredibly-ornate Palau de la Musica Catalana (yes, there's a theme here), the house is, well, pretty amazing.

At street level looking in the front door.

Domenech i Montaner was chosen by Francesca Morera i Ortiz to redo the house after she inherited it from her uncle. Unfortunately she died and her son Albert Lleo i Morera, who was not only a doctor but a researcher and inventor, added his touches and lived in the house with his family.

A sitting room and, through the doors, a larger living-style room.

Situated at the corner of two streets, the house's first floor wall is all glass, which allowed both lots of light in as well as the family to be (well) seen from outside. The local term for the floor above street level is "la planta noble", or the noble level (or floor). The Lleo i Morera clan were certainly living large.

The royal view out towards Passeig de Gracia and the cross street, Consel de Cent.

Probably the most surprising feature is the Eusebi Arnau designed sculptures depicting "The Nurse of the Child King", which is a Catalan children's story. It's, if I remember correctly, about a nurse who cares for the prince but wakes up to find him dead. She then does several things to gain God's favor so he'd help her. Depending on the version being told, the prince either ends up alive or dead. Lleo i Morero chose this theme to honor his second child who died not long after birth.

The reception area of the house where you can see the nurse and the prince:

At the other, more-private end of the house is another of the highlights, a stained glass atrium and sitting area. Beyond the glass wall is a large outdoor patio.

As we were just about to head out, the guide pointed out a section of wall where the tile mural had been left unfinished due to a large piece of furniture blocking access. If you look at the photo below, you'll see blue-and-white tiles just above the wood-paneled wall. It's really not that big of a deal but it reminded me that, no matter what job you're doing, it's the details that really matter. After all these years, what's noticeable is the tiny part the artist didn't finish...

Oh, and Diana pointed out that the repair job was a bit Ecce Homo. I loved the analogy and am laughing even now while writing this. Remember kids, details.

I'm constantly amazed at how many things there are still to see in such a relatively small city. If you haven't been here yet, get on it!

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