On a recent trip to Barcelona, Spain I was excited to see that Antoni Gaudí’s first major project, the Palau Güell, is now open to the public. The impressive family home of the wealthy Güell family, built between 1885 and 1889 is now a UNESCO Heritage site.
I was unable to see this beautiful family home on previous visits, since it was undergoing restoration, so I was especially happy to see the first major project of the famed Barcelona architect.
In designing the Güell family residence, just off the busy Las Ramblas, the young architect wanted to break from the medievalist eclectic style prevalent in Europe at the time.
The Güell house has wonderful medieval elements, but it also borrows from Spanish and Islamic architectural elements, especially the intricately carved wooden screens, that serve to separate large spaces in the dining halls and reception halls.
There’s a wonderful basement stable, with whimsical unicorn hitching posts.
The Güell family were also patrons of the arts, and many of their children studied music with the leading instructors of the time. They certainly had a spectacular music room in which to practice, with galleries overlooking the concert area on the upper floors.
On the rooftop, twenty chimneys are scattered across the roof, and decorated with trencadis – mosaics of broken tile shards. They were beautiful and whimsical in the afternoon light, when I visited. Later, they helped me to located the building when I was up on the observation deck of the Christopher Columbus Memorial column.
The Palau Güell is definitely a must-see on your next visit to Barcelona.