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Everyone raves about La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell but I have to say that Casa Batlló was my favorite Antoni Gaudí site to visit. It was far less crowded than the other two popular sites and I was able view the rooms and architecture as long as I wanted without being overcrowded with tourists for the most part.
Casa Batlló was originally built in 1877 by Emilio Sala Cortés (one of Gaudí’s architecture professors) and in 1903, it was purchased by Josep Batlló y Casanovas. In 1904, he hired Antoni Gaudí to redesign the building and originally the plan was to demolish the building but luckily Gaudí found a way to preserve the building without having to go that route. Gaudí completed his work in 1906 and the building is now a UNESCO World Heritage site welcoming 1 million visitors every year.
The front of the building is very colorful and you instantly know that it’s a work of art by Antoni Gaudi. The locals refer to the building as Casa dels ossos meaning House of Bones, as it has a skeletal and organic quality to it. The top of the building is decorated with a wave of colors that look like scales from a dragon. Below the scales are even more colorful textured patterns using Gaudí's favorite trencadis technique which is a type of mosaic using broken tiles, stones, marble and glass. The balconies look like masks and the large windows on the Noble Floor are encased by bone-like columns. You definitely feel like there will be something magical inside.
I purchased the “Be the First!” ticket for 37 Euros, which gave me access to the museum 30 minutes before it opened to the public. This gave me the freedom to take the pictures and videos I wanted without being overwhelmed by fellow tourists. Of course, there were a handful of visitors that purchased the same ticket as well but it’s still not nearly as bad as visiting during normal hours.
I was given a smart guide with headphones once I entered. Each room was numbered and the smart guide would give you the history and facts corresponding with the number of the room. You could also use the smart guide as an augmented reality device and hold it up against certain rooms and models to see how the rooms looked before.
Once we received our smart guide, everyone pretty much dashed to the famous living room with the beautiful large windows looking out to Paseo de Gracia. They all wanted that one picture by this gorgeous window to post on to their social media. There were some pretty creative poses going on and that was entertaining within itself. Within the living room were curvy oak doors, stained glass, grand chandeliers and a wavy ceiling that represented the sea. I adored the way he used curves most of the walls and windows. It added a softness to the house and I couldn’t help but touch everything I walked by because it just looked so inviting.
After exploring the Noble Room, I moved on to the courtyard outside in the back of the building. The most notable part to me about this area was the pavement and it’s beautifully designed tiles. This area was used as a small oasis for the Batllo family.
Next, I came upon the middle of the building and the grand staircase. There were diamond-shaped tiles in shades of blue decorated on the walls along the staircase and you felt like you were under the sea, which was what Gaudí intended. The natural light coming in from the skylight lit up everything so beautifully. As I walked up the stairs, I came across some organic-shaped oak doors with unique door knobs that caught my attention. It almost looked like a secret entrance into something otherworldly.
The stairs led me to the rooftop terrace which had some of the same sculptures from La Pedrera like the polychrome chimney stacks designed to prevent backdrafts. The rooftop is most well-known for the “dragon’s back”, which is represented by Gaudí’s favorite trencadis technique using different coloured tiles.
My favorite part was the loft. The white catenary arches with the blue tiled floors gave this area a dreamlike ambience. I kept on walking back and forth in this white corridor and just couldn’t get enough of this space. It used to be a service area where the tenants used it as laundry rooms and storage which is crazy because I would have totally made this area into my bedroom.
Before exiting the building, I stopped by the gift shop and there were some things I would have bought like the colorful chopsticks inspired by Gaudí's trencadis technique but I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase, so I just did some window shopping.
If you’re looking to visit some Gaudi sites in Barcelona, I highly recommend exploring Casa Batllo. The audio guide described it as a “house made to be touched” and I totally agree. Every room I entered and every corner I turned, I just wanted to touch everything because I was so intrigued with it’s unique and organic shapes. Each room, hallway, door, window, flooring, light fixture, wall… basically every inch of this building was given so much attention to detail that it was astounding.