Casa Batllo or House of Batllo is a classic beauty by Antoni Gaudi. Located on number 43, Paseo de Gracia, in the central region of Barcelona, the building is a major tourist and cultural attraction. It witnesses over one million tourists every year.
Because this building is so special, there are many interesting Casa Batllo facts out there.
Casa Batllo, Barcelona
The building was originally built in the year 1877, by Emilio Sala Cortés, a professor at the Provincial School of Architecture, Barcelona.
In the year 1903, Mr Josep Batllo y Casanovas took the building’s ownership and decided to turn it into his residence.
Mr Batllo was unhappy with the original design. He wanted something out-of-the-box, something captivating. In fact, he wanted his residence to be the best in the locality.
Gaudi, the man and the artist, had always been mystified and awed by the powers of nature and its denizens. He considered the ‘living’ as God’s greatest creation and perhaps, nature was his eternal Muse.
When Batllo gave Gaudi the artistic freedom to create, he used it to his joyful best.
Casa Batllo architecture
The entire architecture of Casa Batllo is a blend of human, animal and plant imagery drawn from both the mythical and the realistic realms.
The lower and central portion of the facade is marked by protruding skull-shaped masks, which are actually railings of the balconies. They are made of cast iron. These balconies are supported by bone-like pillars.
Because of its skeletal facade, the house is known by its alternative name, Casa dels Assos or House of Bones.
The entire undulating surface of the facade is a mosaic of colored glass discs (prepared by Gaudi himself) and ceramic tiles. The vision is conspicuously that of a lake with floating flowers on it. Some compare this portion to Monet’s oil paintings, the Water Lilies.
Similarly, the topmost portion is aligned with stones, and marine-themed glass and ceramic tiles. In daylight, the top sparkles like the rippling surface of a sea.
The roof is another breathtaking view. It is designed upon the fantastic imagery of a dragon. Its scales are made of iridescent ceramic tiles with a metallic gleam. The color of the tiles varies from green on the right, to violet and blue in the center, finishing with pink and red on the left.
A highlight of the roof is a tower with four arms pointing in the four geographical directions. The entire tower is covered with ceramic tiles, monogrammed with the names of Jesus, Maria, and Joseph.
Inside Casa Batllo
The interior of the house is as magnificent as the facade, showcasing the beauty and imagination of true artists. Gaudi took the assistance of the best local artisans, working with iron, glass, ceramic, wood, carved stones, and other materials.
Once again, the entrance hall that leads to Batllo family’s private hall evokes an underwater experience. The skylights represent turtle shells.
The noble floor was the residence of the Batllo family.
The ground staircase leads to Mr Batllo’s study where one finds a mushroom-shaped fireplace.
From here, the oak doors lead to the living room that looks onto Pasa de Gracia. Its ceiling is designed to look like sea waves.
The patio of lights is another core structure. Antoni Gaudi built it with varying shades of blue (darker at the top and lighter at the bottom) to ensure more passage of light.
He even designed the windows on this logic. One can notice their size decreasing as the height increases.
Another key feature of the house is a unique loft with sixty Catenary arches that looks like the ribcage of an animal. It used to function as a service area for the tenants.
The architecture taken in its entirety shows that Gaudi has blended a curious mixture of Gothic, natural and religious elements. He was perhaps symbolizing the harmony of man, nature, and religion.
Gaudi worked on the renovation from 1904 to 1906 and changed the very look of the building transforming it into a true object of art.
Recommended Reading: Inside Casa Batllo – interior pictures of Ballo House
History of Casa Batllo
The Batllo family held on to the building until the 1950s. Since then, after passing down the hands of multiple families and companies, the house came into the ownership of its current owners, the Bernet Family, in the 1990s.
In 1995, the family opened the doors of Casa Batllo to tourists, and also allowed the hosting of events in it.
In 1962, Casa Batllo was named as a National Cultural Asset of Catalonia. In 1969, it was named as a Cultural asset of Spain. In 2006, it won the Award for Conservation of Architectural Heritage.
Currently, Casa Batllo is certified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is also one of the seven wonders of the cultural heritage of Barcelona.
Casa Batllo Facts
Here are some amusing facts about Casa Batllo
Fact 1. Casa Batllo is located on the street named Manzana de la Discordia. It shares the location with two other fashionable buildings: Casa Amagller by Josep Puig and Casa Lleo Morera by Lluis Domenech.
Manzana de la Discordia means the Apple of Discord. In Greek mythology, an apple was given by Eris to ‘the fairest’ that led to discord between three goddesses and eventually, the Trojan War.
The specific period of construction of Casa Batllo was a time when every family was competing to build the most remarkable house in order to win the best urban house award, hosted by the Barcelona City Council.
Here, the discord refers to the rivalry of the three architects to win the best house. Batllo’s house was nominated but it didn’t win the award.
Fact 2. Josep Batllo wanted to demolish the original building and build a new one. Gaudi convinced him that a mere renovation would work.
Fact 3. Gaudi took a huge risk of building Casa Batllo since many of its features broke from Barcelonan building norms and structures. It was strongly discussed by the local government. Fortunately, they consented in the end.
Fact 4. There are virtually no straight lines in the entire architecture of Casa Batllo.
Fact 5. A common theory exists that Casa Batllo pays tribute to the patron saint of Catalonia, Saint George, and his legendary battle with a dragon. It is interpreted that the spire-like structure on the left of the roof represents ‘Ascalon’, the sword of Saint George, that plunges into the back of the dragon.
Fact 6. Did you know that Casa Batllo sports some interesting features that are unlikely to be seen inside a normal house? The house has a wooden lift installed into the patio of lights, which is functional even today.
There is also a private garden that was built for afternoon pleasure of the Batllo family. There is also a secluded spot in Mr Batllo’s study for courting of couples.
Fact 7. Casa Batllo is owned by the same owners of famous Spanish confectionary brand Chupa Chups candy.
Fact 8. The entrance fee for Casa Batllo is higher than any of the local museums and buildings in Barcelona.
Fact 9. Post the success of Casa Batllo, another businessman asked Gaudi to design a similar building just 700 meters (3000 feet away). It was called Casa Mila.
Because of this proximity, most tourists see both the Gaudi masterpiece at the same time. Some, however, prefer to visit only one and want to know which is better Casa Batllo or Casa Mila.
Fact 10. An emblematic feature of Casa Batllo is its furniture. Gaudi’s signature furniture is a two-seater sofa that complements human skin. Its back looks like apples and is designed to provide comfort. The design has been reproduced by a number of architects over the centuries.
Thus, whether you’re an aspiring architect, a culture enthusiast, an art student or simply a tourist, Gaudi’s Casa Batllo is a must visit.
What are you waiting for? Book your tickets right away!
Important: When you buy tickets online, you save 3 Euros (because you don’t pay the window surcharge) and you also avoid the queue.
The online tickets will be emailed to you. To gain entry, just show them at the entrance of the attraction.
1. Casa Batllo tickets – Fast pass tickets price, discounts
2. Gaudi House Museum – online ticket price, the best time to visit
3. La Pedrera, Barcelona – Casa Mila opening time, best time to visit
4. Is La Pedrera worth it? Should you visit it?
5. Inside La Pedrera – interiors and top views of Casa Mila