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Archive for February 5th, 2016

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (June 25, 1852 – June 12, 1926) – sometimes referred to by the Spanish translation of his name, Antonio Gaudí – was an architect from Catalonia, who belonged to the Modernism (Art Nouveau) movement and was famous for his unique style and highly individualistic designs. Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts like ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.

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Gaudí was fascinated by nature. He studied nature’s angles and curves and incorporated them into his designs. Instead of relying on geometric shapes, he mimicked the way trees and humans grow and stand upright. The hyperbolic and parabolic lines he borrowed from nature and used in his work were easily reinforced by steel rods and allowed his designs to resemble elements from the environment. It has been hypothesized that exposure to nature at an early age helped to form two of his greatest qualities: observation and the analysis of nature. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís which used waste ceramic pieces.

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Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernist movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernis, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms. Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he conceived them.

Gaudí’s work enjoys global popularity and continuing admiration and study by architects. His masterpiece, the still incomplete Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Gaudí’s Roman Catholic faith intensified during his life and religious images appear in many of his works. This earned him the nickname “God’s Architect” and led to calls for his beatification.

The Bellesguard house

The Bellesguard house, located in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district of Barcelona, was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1909, using rectilinear forms rarely seen in his other work. The Torre Bellesguard is one of the most fascinating and one of the least known of Gaudí’s works in Barcelona.

The history of Bellesguard is inextricably bound up with the history of Catalonia. The many historic events that unfolded and the renowned figures that passed through Bellesguard over the centuries influenced and inspired Antoni Gaudí to create one of his most personal, symbolic and fascinating works. His inspiration was the medieval castle of Martin I, also known as Martin the Humane, the last king of the Catalan dynasty of the House of Barcelona, who resided at Bellesguard until his death in 1410.

Gaudí built a castle that was a blend of Art Nouveau and Gothic style and restored the ruins of the medieval palace, which are now part of the estate’s grounds.

The Guilera family have privately owned the Bellesguard house for more than 70 years. For most of that time the house was not open to the general public, but now the Guilera family have generously decided to open their doors to the public with guided tours and evening concerts in the gardens in the summer. The regular guided tours are in Catalan, Spanish, English languages and cover the medieval walls, the gardens and the exterior of the house, as well as the most interesting parts of the interior.

The building takes its name from its strategic position on a hillside and the magnificent views – in the Catalan language “Bellesguard” means “beautiful views” or “good viewing point”. The house evokes medieval times, resembling a castle from the outside, with towers and battlements, although Gaudí’s imprint is visible. The height of the building is enhanced by the conical turret, topped by a four-armed cross which is so characteristic of Gaudí’s work. The house was built with stone and brick, decorated with magnificent mosaics and wrought-iron details. Nearby, in Carrer Bellesguard, is the viaduct designed by Gaudí as a containing wall. The stone arches and sloping angle remind us of the Park Güell, and bear Gaudí’s unmistakable imprint.

See the map with the location of The Bellesguard house, as well as some other important spots of Gaudí’s work: La Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà & Park Güell.

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