Barcelona is home to some of the most unique and inspiring architecture in the world, one of these must-see in Barcelona buildings is Palau Güell. The Palau Güell is one of Antoni Gaudí’s early works in Barcelona and one of the most magnificent buildings of Modernism. It is located in the Raval district, just a few metres from the Rambla. Parts of the facade of the Palau Güell are reminiscent of a Venetian palace, striking are the two large oval gates at the front. With carriages you were able to drive directly through these gates into the horse stables. Guests then went up the stairs to the upper floors.
Built between 1886 and 1890, Constructions began in October 1886. The world exhibition in 1888 was the opening of the palace, although the work continued. The striking, typical chimneys, were installed on the roof in 1895. Palau Güell was constructed in a time when the city was rapidly growing, bringing great social as well as cultural and urban changes about. This transformation of Barcelona into a modern city is reflected in Gaudí’s architecture, which breaks with old conventions and looks for new forms of expressing itself, this is just one of the many reasons why Palau Güell is a must-see in Barcelona.
Commissioned by Eusebi Güell, a Catalan industrialist and Gaudí’s patron, the city palace was designed to meet the family’s daily needs as well as fulfill their demands as host of Barcelona’s high society. Gaudí gave major structural elements an equally important decorative function and combined classical elements with ideas of the upcoming modernism.
The Palau Güell was supposed to become a multipurpose building, with apartments, event and exhibition spaces. There were just 18×22 metres of floor space available to build a magnificent and functional palace. The task was brilliantly solved by Gaudí, creating one of the most amazing buildings of the Modernism period. Innovative in its use of light and space, was the design of the house inspired by the Mudéjar style of architecture of southern Spain, and making it a must-see in Barcelona.
Floors at Palau Güell
On the lower floor the stables for horses and dormitories for the servants were located. You could get to the lower floor via two spiral ramps. There is two large oval entrances which made it easy to take the horse-drawn carriages into the house. From the wagon hall in the rear, the ramp for the horses led to the basement.
On the middle floor used to be the workrooms and a library for Eusebi Güell. On this floor the splendid entrance hall is located as well, from which a magnificent staircase leads to the first floor, the family home. The main level of the house also includes a tribune on the north side of the house, which shelters the entrances to the house.
The center of the first floor is a 17-meter high salon decorated with mural paintings. The roof of the salon forms a parabolic dome. The salon served social occasions and also services were held here. The northern areas of the first floor were dedicated to social events, the southern part served family purposes, such as the dining room or the billiards salon.
On the second floor were the private rooms of the family, which are arranged towards the window gallery to the large salon.
The rooms of the house staff and supply rooms, such as kitchen, pantry and washrooms used to be in the attic.
Palau Güell roof terrace – must-see in Barcelona
The roof is what makes this building a must-see in Barcelona for us at The Barcelonian. The roof terrace is an example of the unique design that Gaudí used at Palau Güell. Distributed on four levels: the largest one is over the central body of the building and contains fourteen chimneys, four dormers in the shape of shells or parabolic arches, skylights and the lantern of the central dome. A few stairs up one comes to the second level, over the annexed body of the building, with another six chimneys built of facing brick. The third level is where the service stairway hut is located, while the fourth level is the site of the conical spire.
Gaudí transformed the cowls of conventional chimneys into sculptural elements for the first time, with trencadís mosaic.
Although the materials used throughout the building are quite traditional, Gaudí’s revolutionary use of them provides spectacular results.
Palau Güell History
Palau Güell went through a series of difficulties after it was inherited by the widow and children of Count Güell. During the Spanish Civil War it was used as a police station and in 1944 it was about to be bought by an American millionaire, who intended to ship it home stone by stone. Finally, Mercè Güell, Eusebi Güell’s youngest daughter, gave the building to the Barcelona Provincial Council in exchange for an annuity and on the condition that the building would be preserved and be given a cultural use. In 1952 the Association of Friends of Gaudí installed itself there and from the end of the 1950s until 1996 it was home of the Theatre Institute.
Since 1984 Palau Güell has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building reopened in 2011 after a 7-year renovation.