Casa Batllo’s roof – Saint George’s legend

Photo Courtesy: Citywonders.com

Casa Batllo is one of the top three things to do in Barcelona – right behind visiting Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.

It is a unique residential building which only Antonio Gaudi could have built – and that too more than 110 years back.

Today it is a UNESCO heritage site attracting more than a million visitors every year.

So, what makes Casa Batllo the tourist favorite?

Three things – the beautifully designed facade of the building, the exquisitely crafted interiors, and the heavenly yet functional Casa Batllo roof.

Gaudi redesigns Batllo House

Casa Batllo didn’t always have the exciting roof it currently has.

When it was originally built (in 1877) the building had a normal roof – like the numerous other buildings in Barcelona.

However, everything changed when local textile merchant Josep Batllo Josep Batllo commissioned Antonio Gaudi to redesign his house in 1904.

Over the next two years, Gaudi completely changed the look of Casa Batllo.

People love what he did so much that now it is often referred to as Casa Batllo Gaudi.

He divided the building into apartments, added a fifth floor, revamped the interiors, added a new facade and most importantly re-designed the roof.

Since the new facade resembled skulls and bones, the building got a new name ‘House of Bones Barcelona‘. But more on that later.

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Casa Batllo’s roof

Catalan architect Gaudi always spent a lot of effort on the roofs. He believed that the roofs gave the building its personality.

It is because of the effort put in by the architect and his team of designers that today Casa Batllo’s roof is one of the most popular features of the entire house.

There are four elements to Batllo House’s roof – the Dragon back, the tower and cross, the four stacks of chimneys, and the terrace.

Roof in the shape of Dragon’s back

Photo Courtesy: Casabatllo.es

It is hard to miss the fact that Casa Batllo’s roof is shaped like a Dragon’s back. And on the Dragon’s back, its spine distinctly stands out.

A small triangular window towards the right of the building represents the Dragon’s eye.

Legend has it that before newer buildings blocked the view, it was possible to see Sagrada Familia from this eye.

The spectacular roof is composed of 600 large tiles, which look like scales.

These large, ceramic scales vary in color.

Near the eye, where the Dragon’s body begins, the tiles are green. They turn blue and violet in the center and pink and red towards the tail area of the Dragon.

Keep this color scheme in mind, for we will be discussing it again.

The tower and Cross on the roof

A cross with four arms pointing North, South, East, and West rises from the roof’s third element, a tower.

This tower and Cross seem to be inspired by nature and resembles plant life (scroll up to see the image).

The tower is also decorated with Golden colored monograms of Jesus, Maria, and Joseph.

If you stand in front of Casa Batllo and look up, you can’t miss these religious references by Gaudi.

Recommended Reading: Casa Mila roof and chimneys

Chimneys on the roof

Tony Hisgett / Wikipedia.com

The beauty of Gaudi’s architectural ideas was the way he combined utility and design. He believed that just because something was utilitarian, didn’t mean that it had to look ugly.

The beautiful chimneys on Batllo house’s roof are proof of Gaudi’s this philosophy.

The Casa Batllo roof also has four chimney stacks – all stylised and polychromatic. They have also been designed to prevent backdraughts

These Gaudi’s chimneys are so popular that they provide the backdrop to regular live music concerts held on the Casa Batllo roof. These concerts are also known as Casa Batllo Magic Nights.

Casa Batllo’s terrace

The terrace of Casa Batllo is an open space offering great views of the Passeig de Gracia.

On the terrace, you will also find the entrance to a small room, which now hosts a small water fountain.

When the Batllo family lived in this house, this room was used to store water.

Questions visitors to Casa Batllo have:
1. Is Casa Batllo worth it?
2. How to get to Casa Batllo?
3. How long does Casa Batllo tour take?

Interpretations of Casa Batllo roof

There are numerous interpretations of what story Gaudi tried to tell via Casa Batllo.

The most popular interpretation is that the building narrates the legend of St George, the patron Saint of Catalonia.

According to the legend, once there lived a dragon which had to be offered one human being every day so that it won’t kill the whole town.

One day it was the turn of the Princess to visit the dragon. St George stepped in, slew the dragon and saved the Princess.

If you look at Casa Batllo closely you can observe the following references to St. George’s legend –

*As already mentioned above, the tiled roof of Casa Batllo depicts the dragon’s scaly back

*The huge cross with four arms depicts St George´s triumphant sword inside the dragon’s back

*This explains the colors scheme of the tiles on the roof – greenish near the eye of the Dragon and red and pink tiles (depicting blood) near St. George’s sword

*On the lower floors, the previous victims of the Dragon are depicted in the form of skull-shaped balconies and bone-shaped pillars

*The flower-shaped balcony at the top refers to the Princess’ balcony

So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets and check out this amazing building.

When you buy this ticket online, you save 4 Euros (because you don’t pay the window surcharge) and you also avoid the queue.

Buy Casa Batllo tickets

You have the option of buying ‘regular’ or ‘Skip The Line’ Casa Batllo tickets. Select the appropriate ticket on the ticket booking page. After the purchase, the tickets will be emailed to you.

Recommended Reading
1. Casa Batllo tickets
2. Casa Batllo facts
3. Interiors of Casa Batllo
4. Best kid activities in Barcelona
5. Casa Mila or Casa Batllo – which is better?