Gaudi’s first house in Barcelona
Casa Vicens is the first important commission Antoni Gaudí received and sowed the seeds of all his architectural work.
In 1883, Manel Vicens i Montaner, a stock and currency broker, entrusted the young architect with designing his summer garden home in the former village of Gràcia. It is his first masterpiece and one of the first buildings to kick off the Modernisme movement in Catalonia and Europe.
The current configuration of Casa Vicens and its land is the result of many changes and transformations, with three clearly differentiated spaces: the original construction from 1883-1885 designed by Antoni Gaudí; the expansion from 1925 designed by Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez; and the garden surrounding the building.
With its new purpose as a museum and cultural space, the renovation project has adapted the spaces in the building from the 1925 extension in order to house the various services needed for the new cultural spaces and the general public. So, it hasn’t been necessary to modify any of the spaces designed by Gaudí.
In order to make the building accessible and give it the necessary flow for visitors to get around inside, a modern staircase work of Elías Torres, José Antonio Martínez Lapeña and David Garcia has been installed in place of the original one connecting the two spaces and a lift has been added, stopping at all floors and the rooftop.
On the ground floor, there is an area to welcome visitors and the first and second floors feature spaces displaying the permanent collection focusing on the building and the temporary exhibits and activities that make up the museum project.
The La Capell Store / Bookshop is located in the basement.
At the end of the garden is a Café.
Accessibility programme. The building and routes have been adapted with different resources to facilitate and improve visitors’ experience at Casa Vicens. Accessible tour for people with people with reduced mobility.
The garden as it is today is fruit of a detailed study and reflection on the original surroundings of Casa Vicens, as Gaudí conceived of it, and the gardens of the time. In his first work, the architect took inspiration from Mediterranean flora and fauna, reflected in his resources and decorations inside.
This allowed us to recreate and plant a garden with Phoenix and Trachycarpus palms, climbing plants, magnolias and roses, among other plant species of the time in this space that has been subject to successive reductions in size over the years.
Read detailed information about the vegetation of the garden
This space that originally housed the coal cellar, under Catalan vaults, is now home to the La Capell speciality store/bookshop, where visitors can find items to complement their visit, ask questions and continue to enjoy their tour of Gaudí’s first house.
Above the entrance, the ground floor housed the spaces for day-time use: a central dining room surrounded by an enclosed porch, a smoking room and a foyer.
On this floor, the smoking room is a place to relax and have fun, a true oriental oasis: its multi-coloured plaster mocarabes on the ceiling replicate palm trees with clusters of dates and the walls have papier-mâché tiles with their original polychrome finish in greens, blues and golds. Under the papier-mâché tiles, the wainscoting in this room alternates ochre and sky blue tiles, with red and yellow roses painted in oil above.
The dining is also in this floor. It’s a room in which architecture and decoration, the original wooden furniture designed by Gaudí himself, a collection of 32 paintings by Francesc Torrescassana, plant motifs on the walls, ceiling and fireplace, covered with ceramic tiles, form a true work of art. From the dining room, visitors move into the covered porch, with a marble fountain to cool off this space.
The Vicens family’s more private, intimate rooms are on the first floor: two bedrooms, a bath and a sitting room. The sgraffito with plant motifs, full of symbolism, inundate and penetrate all the rooms: a sign of what would later be seen throughout Gaudí’s work.
On the terrace, located on top of the covered porch, there is a wooden bench with a metal structure to calmly contemplate the surrounding garden. This outdoor space is off the main bedroom, ensuring loads of light and proper ventilation.
In the bedroom, the space between the beams is decorated with ceramic ceiling tiles made in pressed papier-mâché and green polychrome with vine motifs. The walls are covered with a layer of stucco symbolising reeds and rushes, on one side, and ferns on the other. Gaudí based all the stucco plants in the home on those he found in the Cassoles torrent behind Casa Vicens.
Above the smoking room on the main floor there is a small sitting room with a false dome, in gold, with its spectacular trompe-l’oeil depicting flying birds and climbing plants, as if the room was connected to the outdoors. On the walls, there is wainscoting with ceramic tiles in white, sky blue and ochre.
The second floor is home to the Casa Vicens permanent collection, which gives visitors a global view of everything they have or will see during their visit, depending on whether they choose to start from the bottom or the top.
This top floor of the original construction was profoundly changed in the various renovations of the building, even coming to house two completely independent flats. To return this space to its original structure, all of the inner walls, flooring and drop ceilings have been removed. The result is an open space with exposed wood beams supporting the various sections of the pitched roof and windows on three sides, creating a Moorish calligraphy of protruding and withdrawing elements that bring an interesting play of light and shadow.
At Casa Vicens, Gaudí created his first accessible rooftop, a true vantage point and place to get away from it all and contemplate life. It features a walkway around all four sides of the pitched roof, with curved terracotta roof tiles to collect the water.
On this rooftop, a small cupola crowns the tower on the western corner of the façade and three identical brick structures act as caps to the home’s chimneys. These structures, like the façade, are clad in green and white ceramic tiles and show how Gaudí was influenced by Islamic and Asian architecture.
The rooftop area is part of the extension to the building and has been adapted and made accessible to the public.
Casa Vicens – Visit Barcelona
- Accessible tourism
Barcelona‘s Casa Vicens (1883-1885), declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005, a unique oasis of calm with an Oriental and Moorish flavour, stands in the peaceful neighbourhood of Gràcia. The building is covered with spectacular green and white tiles.
It was built by a young Gaudí as a summer home commissioned by Manel Vicens y Montaner (1836-1895), a stock market dealer and broker. It is the first of Gaudí‘s works in Barcelona in which he was able to display the full range of his talents. He created an innovative and original project that broke completely with the style of anything else built in Catalonia up to that point. Casa Vicens is one of the first examples of an aesthetic renewal in art and architecture that took place in Europe at the end of the 19th century. It marks the beginning of Gaudí‘s artistic career and is considered to be one of the first masterpieces of Modernism.
The most important source of inspiration in all Gaudí‘s work is the world of nature, and Casa Vicens is one of the first examples, given that it represents and incorporates a variety of natural elements into the overall design.
Particularly striking is the cast iron gate at the entrance to the estate, which features representations of palm tree leaves and then the carnations that Gaudí adapts as an ornamental feature for the ceramic tiles of the facade.
This reference to natural elements is not only present on the outside of the house but also, by integrating different decorative arts – ironwork, painting, ceramics, carpentry, mural decoration, etc. – Gaudí succeeds in having nature penetrate the inside of the house, thereby creating continuity between the exterior and interior space.
If you look beyond the decoration you’ll see the historicist Mudejar style as well as the forms which are Indian and Japanese in inspiration. Gaudí paid particular attention to the corners of the building, which were ridged in order to avoid the austere appearance of classical architecture. This orientalised exoticism was greeted with enthusiasm by the elite classes at the time in Barcelona. This is why it should come as no surprise that Gaudí‘s first building gained a much more enthusiastic reception than his later landmarks buildings, such as ” La Pedrera”.
Casa Vicens opens as a House Museum and proposes a rigorous visit that is also attractive for all audiences, which includes a permanent exhibition and a tour through the original rooms of Gaudí, carefully preserved and restored.
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House of Vicens in Barcelona (Casa Vicens): description, how to get there
Home » Sights » Architecture
- 1 History
- 2 Modernity
- 3 How to get there?
The capital of Catalonia owes much of its tourist appeal to the great architect Antoni Gaudí. Suffice it to say that of the eight UNESCO sites in this city, six are the creations of the Catalan master. Among them, Casa Vicens is the first major work of an aspiring architect in Barcelona. Casa Vicens is located in the tourist shadow of the more famous buildings of Gaudí – the houses of Mila and Batllo, the Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia church, but this circumstance does not diminish its architectural value.
In 1878 Antonio Gaudí, who had just graduated as an architect, designed a country house for Manuel Vicens, the owner of a ceramic tile and brick factory. The area of Gràcia, where the Vicens house was built, was outside Barcelona at that time. Construction began 5 years later and was completed in 1888
The plot allotted for construction was limited – 30 by 34.5 m. Nevertheless, pushed into the background of the site, the mansion is quite spacious: the area of \u200b\u200ball premises exceeds 1 thousand m 2 . The building designed by Gaudi on one side “stuck” into the neighboring monastery. Of the remaining three facades, the main one was considered to be the southwestern one, overlooking the garden, and being, as it were, its continuation. At the same time, the southeast façade turned out to be the most decorative, overlooking the current Carrer de les Carolines street.
The four-storey house consisted of a basement, two residential floors and an attic. On the lower residential floor there was a hall, a dining room and a smoking room, and on the second floor there were bedrooms.
After the death of Vicens in 1895, his widow sold the house to the Havanese surgeon Antonio Jover, whose descendants lived in the house until 2017. The new owner ordered the extension of the mansion to Gaudí’s student. A span was added to the back of the building, as well as a patio and stairs: as a result, the floors became self-contained. Interestingly, the plan for this reconstruction was approved by Gaudí himself. The next two reconstructions of the building, made respectively in the 20th and 21st centuries, were also respectful of Gaudí’s original plan, and contributed to its preservation in good condition.
Hovers allowed “neighbors and tourists” to enter the inside of their private house only one day of the year. Fortunately for them, in 2017 the Andorran MoraBanc bought the house for 35 million EUR and set up a modest museum in it.
Vicens’ house was originally surrounded by a garden. With the expansion of Carolines Street, on which the house is located, as well as after the sale by the owners in the middle of the 20th century. part of the land, part of the garden and fence, the rotunda and the cascade with a fountain were lost. True, a smaller copy of this fountain was recreated at 1984 on the territory of another work of the master – the estate of Güell, where the center for the study of Gaudí’s work now operates.
In the appearance of the house of Vicens, the direction of activity of its first owner is clearly guessed. The building is built of raw stone and lined with colored ceramic tiles produced by the customer. A beautiful mansion, thus, in addition to the main purpose, also popularized the owner’s products.
In architectural terms, the building is a quadrangle, the regularity of which is somewhat broken by the dining room and smoking room. Casa Vicens is built in Gaudí’s favorite original Art Nouveau style. At the same time, in the decorative style of the building, the influence of the youthful enthusiasm of the architect for the Spanish-Moorish Mudéjar style, popular at that time in Barcelona, is obvious.
With his characteristic meticulousness and ensemble thinking, Gaudí designed not only the building itself, but also the grilles with metal palm leaves of the fence, gates, balconies and windows. It was not difficult for him: after all, Gaudi came from a family of a hereditary coppersmith and blacksmith, and mastered this art in his youth. The lace of the wrought-iron gratings together with the carpet ornament of the facing tiles significantly soften the confrontation between the general aspiration of the building upwards and the standard horizontal division of its floors.
In Gaudí’s future works, each floor will be original. Tourists who are familiar with other creations of Gaudi are somewhat surprised by the straight lines in the house of Vicens: later the architect began to be considered their hater. He said that they were not characteristic of nature, which had been a source of inspiration for him all his life.
Natural motifs are widely used in the house of Vicens. Marigold flowers growing in the surrounding garden are also depicted on the ceramic tiles of the facade, creating a common composition of the house and garden. Birds – flamingos and storks can be seen on the walls of the interior, and cherry branches – on the ceiling.
Like the houses of Mila and Batlló, the ventilation shafts and chimneys of the house of Vicens are decorated: in this case, ceramic tiles are used for this. When looking at the building, graceful turrets resembling the domes of mosques, bay windows and carved balconies attract attention. The variegation of the facade with a chess-flower ornament not only does not spoil the house, but also gives it a certain warmth. As Gaudi said, he simply transferred to the tiles a floral carpet of marigolds and sunflowers, which he saw in the garden at the site of the mansion.
Despite inexpensive finishing materials, Vicens’ house resembles a castle. The interiors of Vicens’ house are extremely decorative, and surprise with the care taken in every element. Fortunately, the most decorated and memorable rooms – the lobby, the smoking room and the dining room – have hardly changed their original appearance.
How to get there?
Address Casa Vicens: Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26. Opening hours – from 10 to 19 hours, and the price of the entrance ticket – 19EUR. You can order a ticket on the website.
- on the green metro line L3 to Fontana station;
- branches L6, L7, S5, S55, S1, S2 FGC trains to Gracia station;
- bus routes No. 2, 4, 14, V17, 27, 87, 2222;
- “blue” route of the Bus Turistic tourist bus.
Tickets: Dom Vicens, Barcelona | Tiqets.com
5 options • from 18.00 €
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Gaudí’s House of Vicens: Guided Tour
- Duration: 1 hour
- Catalan, English, Spanish speaking guide
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Gaudí Houses and Sagrada Familia: Full-Day Tour of Barcelona
- Duration: 9 hours
- English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese speaking guide
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Casa Vicens – Combine your visit with other popular Barcelona attractions. Some things are worth putting together.
House Vicens – reviews
796 verified customer reviews
Mar 19 2023
Not too crowded, comparatively. Beautiful architecture and easy to use/informative audio guide.
Casa Vicens: Skip The Line
06 Nov. 2022
Great experience together with our guide Marco who took us back into time into the late 1800’s.