If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona and are doing some research to organise your days there a little bit, you must have found some information about a unique architectural style called Modernisme. In Barcelona, Modernisme was the main architectural style in the first years of the 20th century, and it became an unavoidable part of his aesthetics and personality. Even if you can find examples of modernista architecture in other parts of Spain and Catalonia (El Capricho, a house in Comillas, Cantabria, that was designed by Gaudí, for instance), its relationship to the city of Barcelona is like no other.

Catalan Modernisme is characterised by its inspiration in nature, the inclusion of natural elements in the design, the inspiration in light, geometry and colour, and the strength of its symbolism. It’s linked to Neo Gothic (architects such as Antoni Gaudí also experienced a Neo Gothic period) and in the rest of Europe it has been called Art Nouveau. And, even if they are contemporary and very similar in certain aspects, there is something unique in Catalan Modernisme, which is why it is such a part of the DNA of Barcelona. In the following lines, we’ll walk you through the main buildings of Modernisme in Barcelona. Welcome to one of Barcelona’s most unique attractions!


Modernisme in Barcelona

Modernisme in Barcelona: El Palau de la Música

The Palau de la Música Catalana, that is, the Palace of Catalan Music, is one of the most important buildings of modernista style of Barcelona, if not the most important, after the Gaudí houses and monuments. It was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, another of the big names of Modernisme in Barcelona, for the use of the main Catalan choir, the Orfeó Català, which was also of importance at the time due to their prominence in the cultural movement that sort of rebirthed Catalan culture, La Renaixença. The building, especially famous for its astounding interior with one of the most impressive stained- glass skylights you will ever see, was inaugurated in 1908. The style is the most baroque side of Modernisme, still inspired in nature and, of course, in music, which is the dominant theme. The architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, also designed some other important buildings that you will read about further on in this article.

Modernisme in Barcelona

Modernisme in Barcelona: L’Eixample

L’Eixample was the perfect spot for houses of modernista style, since it was being built as Modernisme was born and grew. L’Eixample was an expansion plan for the city of Barcelona designed by admired architect Ildefons Cerdà which united the towns located towards the mountains with Barcelona, thus creating the city as we know it today. Many bourgeois families would buy buildings in Eixample and commission a new façade to a respected architect, which is why there are so many beautiful buildings in this neighbourhood. The locals don’t even pay attention to most of them, as they are part of the usual aesthetics of the city, but visitors do. Some of the most beautiful (and these are admired by the locals as well) are the Casa Amatller or the Casa Terradas (known as Casa de les Punxes), by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the Casa Lleó Morera, by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, or or the Palacio Montaner, by Josep Domènech i Estapà.

Modernisme in Barcelona

Modernisme in Barcelona: Sant Pau Hospital

And we mention Lluís Domènech i Montaner again to talk about the beautiful Sant Pau Hospital, a little Modernista City that used to be a hospital until very recently, when the city built a new headquarters for the hospital and made a museum out of the old building. The complex is formed by several pavilions of this architectural style, with sinuous shapes and colourful roofs. Each of them used to be dedicated to a medical specialty, and there were buildings for the university, for Medical School, chapels and administration buildings. The hospital was built in two periods, one between 1902 and 1913 (13 buildings); the second one in 1920, when six new buildings designed by his son, Pere Domènech i Roura, were added to the complex. The building was recognised by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site due to its architectural value.

Modernisme in Barcelona

So, are you ready to visit all Modernisme in Barcelona? It makes for a two or even a three day tour if you want to see everything, but it’s worth it due to its uniqueness.

At GowithOh, we are an enthusiastic team of self-confessed Europhiles who are passionate about travel. We especially love the variety of city breaks possible in Europe, from the historic UNESCO heritage cities like Prague, to the more cosmopolitan beachside destinations like Barcelona. We love discovering the hidden gems in different cities and sharing them with our fans so everyone can benefit and enjoy the perfect city break in Europe.