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Casa Batlló

Coordinates: 41°23′30″N 2°09′54″E / 41.39158°N 2.16492°E / 41.39158; 2.16492
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Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló
Former namesHouse of bones
Alternative namesCasa dels ossos (House of Bones)
General information
LocationBarcelona, Spain
Coordinates41°23′30″N 2°09′54″E / 41.39158°N 2.16492°E / 41.39158; 2.16492
Technical details
Materialstone, metal, wood, ceramic
Renovating team
Architect(s)Antoni Gaudí
Other designersDomènec Sugrañes i Gras, Josep Canaleta, Joan Rubió
Part ofWorks of Antoni Gaudí
CriteriaCultural: (i), (ii), (iv)
Inscription1984 (8th Session)
Designated24 July 1969
Reference no.RI-51-0003815

Casa Batlló (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkazə βəˈʎːo]) is a building in the center of Barcelona, Spain. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí, and is considered one of his masterpieces. A remodel of a previously built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times. Gaudí's assistants Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, Josep Canaleta and Joan Rubió also contributed to the renovation project.

The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality. It is located on the Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district, and forms part of a row of houses known as the Illa de la Discòrdia (or Mansana de la Discòrdia, the "Block of Discord"), which consists of four buildings by noted Modernista architects of Barcelona.[1]

Like everything Gaudí designed, Casa Batlló is only identifiable as Modernisme in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. There are few straight lines, and much of the façade is decorated with a colorful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís). The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí's home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

In 2005, Casa Batlló became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Initial construction (1877)[edit]

Antoni Gaudí in 1910

The building that is now Casa Batlló was built in 1877, commissioned by Lluís Sala Sánchez.[2] It was a classical building without remarkable characteristics within the eclecticism traditional by the end of the 19th century.[3] The building had a basement, a ground floor, four other floors and a garden in the back.[4]

Batlló family[edit]

The Batlló family

The house was bought by Josep Batlló in 1903. The design of the house made the home undesirable to buyers but the Batlló family decided to buy the place due to its centralized location. It is located in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia, which in the early 20th century was known as a very prestigious and fashionable area. It was an area where the prestigious family could draw attention to themselves.[4]

In 1906, Josep Batlló still owned the home. The Batlló family was very well known in Barcelona for its contribution to the textile industry in the city. Josep Batlló i Casanovas was a textile industrialist who owned a few factories in the city. Batlló married Amàlia Godó Belaunzarán, from the family that founded the newspaper La Vanguardia. Josep wanted an architect that would design a house that was like no other and stood out as being audacious and creative. Both Josep and his wife were open to anything and they decided not to limit Gaudí. Josep did not want his house to resemble any of the houses of the rest of the Batlló family, such as Casa Pía, built by the Josep Vilaseca. He chose the architect who had designed Park Güell because he wanted him to come up with a risky plan. The family lived on the principal floor of Casa Batlló until the middle of the 1950s.[5]

Renovation (1904-1906)[edit]

The atrium; Gaudí convinced Batlló to let him expand the central well of the building to let in light, instead of rebuilding.

In 1904, Josep Batlló hired Gaudí to design his home; at first his plans were to tear down the building and construct a completely new house. Gaudí convinced Josep that a renovation was sufficient and was also able to submit the planning application the same year. The building was completed and refurbished in 1906. He completely changed the main apartment which became the residence for the Batlló family. He expanded the central well in order to supply light to the whole building and also added new floors. In the same year the Barcelona City Council selected the house as a candidate for that year's best building award. The award was given to another architect that year despite Gaudí's design.


Josep Batlló died in 1934 and the house was kept in order by the wife until her death in 1940. After the death of the two parents, the house was kept and managed by the children until 1954. In 1954, an insurance company named Seguros Iberia acquired Casa Batlló and set up offices there. In 1970, the first refurbishment occurred mainly in several of the interior rooms of the house. In 1983, the exterior balconies were restored to their original colour and a year later the exterior façade was illuminated in the ceremony of La Mercè.

Multiple uses[edit]

In 1993, the current owners of Casa Batlló bought the home and continued refurbishments throughout the whole building.[6] Two years later, in 1995, Casa Batlló began to hire out its facilities for different events. More than 2,500 square meters of rooms within the building were rented out for many different functions. Due to the building's location and the beauty of the facilities being rented, the rooms of Casa Batlló were in very high demand and hosted many important events for the city.


Casa Batlló fireplace seat


The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality. The building looks very remarkable — like everything Gaudí designed, only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.

It seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís) that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí's home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.[7]


The loft, originally a service area, has sixty catenary arches

The loft is considered to be one of the most unusual spaces. It was formerly a service area for the tenants of the different apartments in the building which contained laundry rooms and storage areas. It is known for its simplicity of shapes and its Mediterranean influence through the use of white on the walls. It contains a series of sixty catenary arches that creates a space which represents the ribcage of an animal. Some people believe that the “ribcage” design of the arches is a ribcage for the dragon's spine that is represented in the roof.

The Atrium (light well)[edit]

Atrium (light well)

The Atrium or the light well is in the central part of the house and delivers air and lighting to all corners of the house. Gaudí had an obsession with light and how it reflected off certain surfaces. The wall of the atrium has different tones of blue as well as a diamond textile pattern all around the walls. The blue tiles allow an equal distribution of light to all the floors. The well has windows with wooden splits to allow them to be open and closed for ventilation.[8] Gaudí wanted to make the bottom of the well feel like the bottom of sea. The skylight allows light to come in and reflect off the ceramic tiles into the windows to naturally illuminate the house. [9] The blue tiles are more intensely colored at the top and get opaquer towards the bottom. The diamond textiles match the rest of the house's use of different, functional shapes. [10]

Noble floor and museum[edit]

Interior of the Noble Floor, which currently houses a museum open to the public

The noble floor is larger than seven-hundred square meters. It is the main floor of the building. The noble floor is accessed through a private entrance hall that uses skylights resembling tortoise shells and vaulted walls in curving shapes. On the noble floor there is a spacious landing with direct views of the blue tiling of the building well. On the Passeig de Gracia side is Batlló's study, a dining room, and a secluded spot for courting couples, decorated with a mushroom-shaped fireplace. The elaborate and animal-like décor continues throughout the whole noble floor.

In 2002, as part of the celebration of the International Year of Gaudí, the house opened its doors to the public and people were allowed to visit the noble floor. Casa Batlló met with great unanticipated success, and visitors became eager to see the rest of the house. Two years later, in celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of work on Casa Batlló, the fifth floor was restored and the house extended its visit to the loft and the well. In 2005, Casa Batlló became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[11]


Four chimney stacks on the roof, with the dragon's spine roof arch behind

The roof terrace is one of the most popular features of the entire house due to its famous dragon back design. Gaudí represents an animal's spine by using tiles of different colors on one side. The roof is decorated with four chimney stacks designed to prevent backdraughts.[12]

Exterior façade[edit]

The façade has three distinct sections.

The façade has three distinct sections which are harmoniously integrated. The lower ground floor with the main floor and two first-floor galleries are contained in a structure of Montjuïc sandstone with undulating lines. The central part, which reaches the last floor, is a multicolored section with protruding balconies. The top of the building is a crown, like a huge gable, which is at the same level as the roof and helps to conceal the room where there used to be water tanks. This room is currently empty. The top displays a trim with ceramic pieces that has attracted multiple interpretations.

Roof tile[edit]

Roof architecture and ceramic tiles, with tower and bulb in the background

The roof's arched profile recalls the spine of a dragon with ceramic tiles for scales, and a small triangular window towards the right of the structure simulates the eye. Legend has it that it was once possible to see the Sagrada Família through this window, which was being built simultaneously. As of 2022, the partial view of the Sagrada Família is available from this vantage point, with its spires visible over newer buildings. The tiles were given a metallic sheen to simulate the varying scales of the monster, with the color grading from green on the right side, where the head begins, to deep blue and violet in the center, to red and pink on the left side of the building.

Tower and bulb[edit]

One of the highlights of the façade is a tower topped with a cross of four arms oriented to the cardinal directions. It is a bulbous, root-like structure that evokes plant life. There is a second bulb-shaped structure similarly reminiscent of a thalamus flower, which is represented by a cross with arms that are actually buds announcing the next flowering. The tower is decorated with monograms of Jesus (JHS), Maria (M with the ducal crown) and Joseph (JHP), made of ceramic pieces that stand out golden on the green background that covers the façade. These symbols show the deep religiosity of Gaudí, who was inspired by the contemporaneous construction of his basilica[13] to choose the theme of the holy family.

The bulb was broken when it was delivered, perhaps during transportation. Although the manufacturer committed to re-do the broken parts, Gaudí liked the aesthetic of the broken masonry and asked that the pieces be stuck to the main structure with lime mortar and held in with a brass ring.[14]

Central section[edit]

The central part of the façade evokes the surface of a lake with water lilies.

The central part of the façade evokes the surface of a lake with water lilies, reminiscent of Monet's Nymphéas, with gentle ripples and reflections caused by the glass and ceramic mosaic.[3] It is a great undulating surface covered with plaster fragments of colored glass discs combined with 330 rounds of polychrome pottery. The discs were designed by Gaudí and Jujol between tests during their stay in Majorca, while working on the restoration of the Cathedral of Palma.[15]


Finally, above the central part of the façade is a smaller balcony, also iron, with a different exterior aesthetic, closer to a local type of lily. Two iron arms were installed here to support a pulley to raise and lower furniture.[16]

Main floor[edit]

The façade of the main floor, made entirely in sandstone, and is supported by two columns. The design is complemented by joinery windows set with multicolored stained glass.[2] In front of the large windows, as if they were pillars that support the complex stone structure, there are six fine columns that seem to simulate the bones of a limb, with an apparent central articulation; in fact, this is a floral decoration. The rounded shapes of the gaps and the lip-like edges carved into the stone surrounding them create a semblance of a fully open mouth, for which the Casa Batlló has been nicknamed the "house of yawns". The structure repeats on the first floor and in the design of two windows at the ends forming galleries, but on the large central window there are two balconies as described above.[17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hughes, Robert (2001). Barcelona. Harvill Press. ISBN 9781860468247. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b Bassegoda i Nonell 2001b, p. 4.
  3. ^ a b Bassegoda i Nonell 2001, p. 75.
  4. ^ a b "Works of Antoni Gaudí". Casa Batlló.
  5. ^ "Antoni Gaudí Biography". Casa Batlló.
  6. ^ In 1999, the elevator was reformed to adapt it to modern standards preserving its original appearance. The project was by Joan Bassegoda Nonell and collaborators Bibiana Sciortino and Mario Andruet.
  7. ^ "Casa Batllo". Architectuul. Retrieved 2024-02-27.
  8. ^ "The interior". Casa Batlló. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  9. ^ Hinojosa, Sebastián (June 2018). "The light well as element of luminous control inside the architectural spaces, case of study: Batlló House". ESTOA: 9.
  10. ^ "Casa Batlló: a dialogue with light, colour and freedom". UNESCO. 2009.
  11. ^ "Casa Batlló, Barcelona". worldsiteguides.com. Archived from the original on 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2022-02-11.
  12. ^ "The history of Casa Batlló". Casa Batlló.
  13. ^ Bassegoda Nonell 1981.
  14. ^ Bassegoda i Nonell 2001b, p. 10.
  15. ^ Bassegoda Nonell 1971.
  16. ^ Lahuerta 2001, p. 31.
  17. ^ Bassegoda i Nonell 2001b, p. 12.


External links[edit]


Buildings of the Illa de la Discòrdia, Barcelona
Illa de la DiscòrdiaCasa Lleó Morera (Montaner)Casa Mulleras (Sagnier)Casa Bonet (Coquillat)Casa Amatller (Cadafalch)Casa Batlló (Gaudí)
Illa de la Discòrdia