Casa Vicens (1888), located on a quiet street in the Gràcia district, has been called una joya de Gaudí oculta en Barcelona (a hidden jewel of Gaudí in Barcelona). While living in Barcelona I visited Casa Vicens many times, appreciating the striking exterior design – and noticed the lack of large crowds of tourists/Gaudí enthusiasts that are the norm at other Gaudí sites throughout the city. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005 for the quality of the work and its place in the history of modern Catalan architecture, the recent news that Casa Vicens will open to the public in the second half of this year (2016) is cause for celebration!
Casa Vicens was the first complete building designed by Antoni Gaudí within Barcelona’s official borders. He had worked on smaller projects, but Casa Vicens was the start of good fortune for him. It was commisioned in 1878, the same year Gaudí, at the age of 26, graduated as an architect. For a Gaudí admirer, Casa Vicens is the place to begin any study of his amazing career.
The building is covered with spectacular tiles (no coincidence that Manuel Vicens Montaner, who commissioned the building from Antoni Gaudí, was a tile manufacturer), following the vogue at the time in Spain for Oriental and Eastern motifs (Neo-Mudéjar) while also reflecting Gaudí’s developing style.
Gaudí based his design for the tiles on the French marigold (Tagetes Patula) which grew in the grounds of the estate, marking the beginning of his use of nature as an inspiration and a model:
Gaudí designed the railings by making clay models of the resplendent leaves of the fan palm:
I look forward to visiting Casa Vicens when it opens its doors later this year, and hope that this beautiful corner of Gràcia does not loose its tranquility as visitors arrive seeking new insight into the world of Antoni Gaudí.
Casa Vicens location: Carrer de les Carolines, 24, Gràcia, Barcelona
Metro: L3 Fontana
Official website: Casa Vicens
All photos © La Gringa Ibérica