March 1, 2012
0134 SPAIN (Catalonia) - Casa Batlló - part of Works of Antoni Gaudí (UNESCO WHS)
Part of the Manzana de la Discordia (Block of Discord, but also Apple of Discord), located at 43, Passeig de Gràcia, in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Casa Batlló is a building restored in the years 1904-1906 by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (with the contribution of Gaudí's assistants, Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, Josep Canaleta and Joan Rubió). Like all the buildings designed by the brilliant Catalan architect, it looks stunning and very modern, even for today's viewer, so it's hard to imagine how strange it may seem, with its organic, even visceral forms, for the early 20th century Barcelonians.
The building consists of a ground floor, a main floor with a courtyard, four further self-contained floors, a loft and a roof terrace. There is private access to the noble floor (the main floor), and a communal stairwell set within the building well, which has been expanded and artistically tiled as though it were part of the exterior facade. The entire building is astonishing, but stand out in the first place the ground floor (with its tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work) and the arched roof like a back of a dragon or dinosaur, plated with tiles in the form of scales.
As the saying goes everywhere, "it seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely". The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones). 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 San Jordi (Saint George, patron saint of Catalonia), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon. The wave-shaped external walls was covered with a mosaic made of ceramic discs and broken ceramic tiles (trencadís) that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues.
The long gallery of the main suite, the Noble Floor, overlooking Passeig de Gràcia, is composed of wooden-framed windows which are opened and closed by raising and lowering using counterweights, and because that are no jambs or mullions it is possible to raise all of the window panes and have a continuous panoramic opening running the full width of the room. The balcony railings, in the shape of venetian masks, are made of wrought iron cast in a single piece and are secured by two anchor points in such a way that the balconies partly project outwards.
From the entrance hall on the ground floor, a sturdy iron railing separates the private access to the Batlló family residence. A grand wooden staircase leads up from a hall with vaulted ceilings and skylights shaped like tortoises’ shells. In the building well the walls was covered entirely in relief glazed tiles in varying shades of blue, which are darker in colour at the top and lighter towards the bottom, thus achieving an even distribution of the light. The windows are smaller higher up where more natural light can enter, whereas they get larger as you move further down.
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 Familia through this window, which was being built simultaneously. There lies four groups of graceful chimneys, with caps on the tops, tiled with the same trencadís glazed mosaics as the facade. The curved surfaces are covered with cut tiles, in the style of the Byzantine builders.
Casa Batlló is a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 2005, when it was added to the site Works of Antoni Gaudí, UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1984, about which I wrote here.
About the stamps
The first stamp on the left, issued on October 31, 2007, for Christmas, depicts a fragment of the altarpiece of the chapel of the Sacramento representing the Epiphany in the cathedral of Huesca, by master sculptor from Valencia, Damián Forment.
The second one is part of a series Lighthouses, issued on September 6, 2007:
• Punta del Hidalgo lighthouse (Tenerife) (0.30 EUR)
• Cabo Mayor lighthouse (Cantabria) (0.39 EUR) - It’s on the postcard 0269
• Punta Almina lighthouse (Ceuta) (0.42 EUR) - It’s on the postcard 0134
• Melilla lighthouse (0.58 EUR)
• Cabo de Palos lighthouse (Murcia) (0.78 EUR)
• Gorliz Lighthouse (Biscay) (2.43 EUR)
Casa Batlló - Wikipedia
Casa Batlló - Official website
Sender: Fabienne (direct swap)
Sent from Madrid (Madrid / Spain), on 15.02.2012
Photo: Szuan Barce