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Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens (75)

If you want to see the work of the genius Gaudí in its entirety, this is a good place to start. It’s worth coming here first, because this villa, originally a summer residence, was the first major work by of the architect, during the same year that he graduated. 

The work was commissioned by Manel Vicens, who some say was a wealthy stockbroker and others claim was a tile manufacturer and that the work had a double incentive: to provide a home for Vicens and also to show off his products.

It is a little hidden in the neighbourhood of Gracia, formerly an independent neighbouring town. 

Initially it had more land, including its own fountain, a bower and a larger garden. But the house, which has undergone several respectful transformations since its construction in 1878, retains practically all of the details of the original design. In fact, when it was extended in 1925, the architect Serra Martínez consulted Antoni Gaudí himself on every detail.  

In this first work, straight lines dominate. Afterwards this would be the exception.

Of Arab influence, the house is very attractive, despite the lack of perspective one gets of it today due to the narrowness of the street. Gaudí covered a good part of the three sides with spectacular green and white glazed tiles. Another element of interest on the outside of the house is the iron railing which successfully reproduces the small leaves of the margalló, a small type of palm tree indigenous to Catalonia. This design by Gaudí was modelled by Llorenç Matamala, a sculptor friend of his who would later on direct the sculpture workshop of the Sagrada Familia. 

Maybe the most outstanding feature is the constant reference to the natural environment of the area at that time: flowers, palm trees, ivy...all represented in tiles, stone, murals, borders, doors and railings. 

You could spend hours discovering details which reflect capricious inspiration and also a developing genius which would be seen in later works. Basically it is a fine example of good taste for details and craftsmanship in architecture. 

The interior decoration is spectacularly baroque and colourful, very much in the style of the time. Capricious decorations with floral, plant and natural motifs inundate ceilings, walls, friezes and wall panels. 

Although the owners are tolerant to visitors in the garden, the house is a private residence and cannot be visited. If you are lucky and your visit coincides with Santa Rita (22nd May) you will be able to go and have a look inside the chapel. 

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