The talents of Antoni Gaudí were first brought to the attention of entrepreneur Eusebi Güell in 1878, when Eusebi happened to pass by the display which Antoni had designed for Esteve Comella at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. That same year, Eusebi commissioned Gaudí to make the furniture for the pantheon chapel at the Palau de Sobrellano in Comillas, for his father-in-law, Antonio López y López. The architect of that magnificent neo-gothic chapel was Joan Martorell i Montells, at whose studio Gaudí had worked.
Some years later, Joan Martorell commissioned Antoni Gaudí with another project, thereby consolidating the relationship between the two architects. This time it was for the pavilions of the porter’s gatehouse and stables of Finca Güell, a property that the Barcelona businessman Eusebi had in Les Corts.
Martorell, an architect enjoying great prestige at the time and whom Gaudí always considered to be his master, was a personality with a very decisive influence on Gaudís future practice.
In 1886 Eusebi, once again, sought the skills of Gaudí in the construction of his new house, Palau Güell in Nou de la Rambla, a street in the old quarter of the city. Later, in 1895 Gaudí built a winery in Garraf county with Francesc Berenguer. In 1898 he planned the church for Colònia Güell, home to the workers at the large textile factory that the industrialist owned on the outskirts of Barcelona. And finally, in 1900, Gaudí was given the assignment of designing the magnificent Park Güell.
Eusebi understood better than any of his peers the meaning of Gaudí’s architecture. The relationship between the two men was not simply that of an artist and his patron, but a real story of friendship. So much so that Gaudí was invited to live in one of the houses on the Park Güell estate alongside the Güell family.
In the businessman’s own lifetime, the park was already considered to be one of Barcelona’s great tourist attractions, and the large square was often let for staging Catalan events, traditional Catalan sardana dancing and other civic and social events.
Parc Güell, Collserola
Parc Güell was built between 1900 and 1914 and today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is a garden complex that houses a series of dynamically designed buildings, including Gaudí’s house. Most buildings have the “trencadis” (surfaces covered with irregular ceramic pieces) that is characteristic of Gaudí and Art Nouveau. The colonnaded hall and the terrace with serpentine shapes are the most famous places in this park. This park is the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll while enjoying nature and looking at Gaudí’s artwork.
Palau Güell, Nou de la Rambla
Palau Güell was one of the first important commissions Antoni Gaudí received at the start of his career. Eusebi wanted Gaudí to build him this peculiar urban palace as an extension of the family home on La Rambla. The exterior shows a sober façade that doesn’t resemble other projects made by Gaudí. On the other hand, the interior and the roof make up for the lack of “Gaudiesque” elements in the façade. Palau Güell is a magnificent example of domestic architecture in the context of Art Nouveau. It was the home of the Güell i López family until they moved to Parc Güell.
Colonia Güell, Santa Coloma de Cervelló
Gaudí designed this irregular oval church and crypt in 1898 and finished its construction in 1914. The interior of the crypt has five aisles: a central one and two more at each side. The original Gaudí columns with various forms are present inside and outside. The windows jut out over the walls, and in the upper part of the door a ceramic composition show the four cardinal virtues. The crypt is built in basaltic stone bricks with mosaics that give an archaic appearance.
The construction techniques used here laid the foundation of the techniques employed in La Sagrada Familia.
El Drac de Gaudí at Finca Güell, Avinguda Pedralbes
Finca Güell is a significant property of Gaudí’s biggest client, Eusebi Güell. But what’s interesting is not so much the complex, but its entrance iron gate. The complex is composed of two buildings linked by a common monumental cast iron gate adorned with Art Nouveau vegetal fantasies and a medallion with the “G” of Güell. The most astonishing feature is its unusual big iron dragon manufactured by the locksmith’s Vallet i Piquer.
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