Two Barcelona buildings that amaze

Two Barcelona buildings that amaze

This year, the Spanish city is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867–1956), one of the leading architects of Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau). These two buildings are among Puig’s best-loved Modernista marvels.

Els 4 Gats

Pablo Picasso, at age 17, had his first exhibition in this Gothic Quarter bar on the ground floor of the Puig-designed Casa Marti building. The bar became the epicentre of Catalan Modernisme. Regulars included Antoni Gaudí, composers Enrique Granados and Isaac ­Albéniz, painters Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, and poet Ruben Dario. The décor has changed ­little: wrought-iron chandeliers, blue ceiling, red and gold arches. Photos and paintings by its famous clients hang from every wall, dominated then as now by Casas’ large oil painting Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu On a ­Tandem. The menus still bear Picasso’s original design and the lavatory walls are decorated with Puig’s trademark floral tiles. Els Quatre Gats ­celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. Els 4 Gats, Carrer de Montsió 3, 08002 Barcelona 4gats.com

Casa Terradas

A castle-like mansion (built in 1905) comprises three apartment buildings under one roof. Nicknamed Casa de les Punxes (House of Spikes) for its six pointy spires, Puig designed it for the three daughters of industrialist Bartomeu Terradas. The blend of Catalan ­tradition and northern European gothic with then-innovative techniques (red-brick facades, wrought iron, floral sculptures) is quintessential Puig. Only open to the public since August 2016, visits include access to the roof and those spectacular spires, which Puig covered in overlapping tiles to look like dragon scales. Sant Jordi, Catalonia’s dragon-slaying patron, is a recurring motif throughout the house, and the subject of an entertaining multi-media experience. Casa Terradas, Avgda. Diagonal 420, 2-1, 08037 Barcelona casadelespunxes.com

Text by Steve John Powell  Photos by Angeles Marin Cabello

This article is published in the Summer 2017 issue of Blue Wings.