Barcelona is synonymous with art nouveau and Gaudi. The Sagrada Familia is no less than Spain’s most visited monument, which along with the Casa Battlo and the Pedrera make up Barcelona’s holy trinity of Gaudi art nouveau monuments.
These are excellent sites and must be visited, but it is also worth exploring some of the lesser-known art nouveau architecture that belongs to the city’s rich architectural heritage.
This is heritage that the city is working hard at renovating and opening to the public; the Casa Viçens de Gràcia is the latest in a series of restoration projects.
Being off the beaten track there are no long queues in the sun to enter these museums, just a chance to see some beautiful architecture at your own leisurely pace, or as part of a small tour group.
A good starting place to plan your visits would be Barcelona historical group the Ruta del Modernisme’s (www.rutadelmodernisme.com) detailed map of 115 places of historical interest in the city, of which at least 20 open their doors to the public.
Or, here are some of our own favourites:
LA TORRE BELLESGUARD
Overlooking Barcelona from upon high on Collserola, La Torre Bellesguard was built between 1900 and 1909, and opened to the public in 2013; it is more usually know as the Casa Figueres.
Originally designed by Gaudí for Jaume Figueras, a wealthy businessman and personal friend of the architect, the house was extensively renovated prior to its opening.
La Torre Bellesguard has a castle-like exterior inspired by a medieval fort which used to stand on the same spot, and whose ruins can still be seen in the grounds around the house.
During the summer you can enjoy a “Noche de Gaudí” (Gaudi night) at La Torre Bellesguard with live music, guided tour and a glass of cava.
Carrer de Bellesguard 16 www.bellesguardgaudi.com
CERCLE ARTÍSTIC DE SANT LLUC
The Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc was a meeting point for artists and intellectuals and boasts a stellar list of former members, including Gaudí himself.
Founded in 1893 at the peak of Barcelona’s golden age and the peak of art nouveau, the Cercle moved to its current home in Palau Mercader in 2009, a small 17th-century palace off Via Laietana.
The Palau Mercader was opened for public viewing in March 2014. It houses a small but significant collection of Modernista art. Every Wednesday morning there is a tour that includes breakfast in the lovely bar, where you can soak up the atmosphere and leaf through Modernista magazines from around the world.
CASA LLEÓ MORERA
The Casa Lleó Morera was opened to the public in 2014. Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, this house forms part of the famous Manzana de la discordia on Pg. de Gràcia,
Take a guided tour of the house’s ornate first floor, home to some especially fine examples of Modernista sculpture, ceramics, mosaics and glassworks.
Pg. de Gràcia 35 www.casalleomorera.com