Palau Guell

Palau Güell

It is quite difficult to see the Palau Guell in all its beauty from outside for it is situated in a very narrow street, Nou de la Rambla. Inside its interior is utterly starlight, as it is with all of Antoni Gaudi’s creations. The Palau is one of his early works, however it is also regarded as one of the most complete and fully implemented in terms of design during the life of the author in 1890 (although officially the construction works were finished only in 1888).

It was the first big order Gaudi got from his friend and patron Eusebi Guell, a wealthy Catalan industrialist, whose name also bears architect’s famous Park Guell. At first sight in might seem strange that such a place was chosen for the construction of this luxurious building, especially taking in account that even today Barrio Chino (Chinese quarter) is far from being the most prestigious in terms of its inhabitants. The explanation is simple, this is the place where the house of Eusebi Guell’s father, who fought his way up the social ladder, once was and in the sight of which Guell wanted to erect his Barcelona residence in contrast to the new quarter of Eixample, where city’s bourgeoisie tended to live. Being one of the richest people of his time, Guell gave Gaudi almost unlimited financial opportunities, which in turn allowed the architect to use his brilliant imagination at its full strength and to be able to use only the best materials. The main decoration of a modest façade made entirely of Garraf limestone (produced in Guell’s property lands) is the front iron gates with customer’s initials placed in parabolic (buildings main theme) arches. Crowned with a steel Catalonian coat of arms with an eagle on top these gates with forged iron-work resembling seaweed greeted the guests’ carriages and cars.

The most valuable treasures of this house, which is considered to be a palace not due to its dimensions but for its contents, are hidden inside. The basement, which was a prison in the times of the Civil War when the building was taken away from Guell’s descendants, for floors with apartments and roof with a terrace are litera lly stuffed with decorative objects of all possible shapes and materials. The main "pillar" of the building’s composition is the Noble Salon or the 17 meter high central hall with its ceiling decorated with a fabulous night sky.

Unfortunately, the palace furniture cannot be seen in the original interior as the museum was opened for public only in 2011 after a very long reconstruction (during the reign of Franco a commissariat was located here). The exposition starts from the basement where the stables once were, and ends on the rooftop while as you walk upstairs the surroundings are getting more and more luxurious. This is a reflection of Gaudi’s plan, his vision of spiritual ascension to the sky (both Gaudi and Guell were very religious). Despite that some of the architectural elements might seem a bit pretentious and eclectic to be defined as a part of some particular architectural style (which is why Gaudi was often criticized by the contemporaries) even this early work gives the idea of architect’s intention to break loose from the commonly accepted patterns and find his own style. And some key features of his style can already be seen in the Palau – smallest details carefully selected, a characteristic combination of the beauty of the exterior with seemingly excessive decorations with functionality and lavish use of finishing material. In 1984 the palace became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 3-5
Opening hours: Tue-Sun April 1 – October 31 10 am – 8 pm (entry till 7 pm); November 1 – March 31 10 am – 5.30 pm (entry till 4.30); closed on Mondays, except public holidays, December 25 and 26, January 1 and 6, and from 19 to 25 of January
How to reach: metro Drassanes, Liceu
Coordinates: 41.378861, 2.174068