El Palau Güell
El Palau Güell
In the popular Raval neighbourhood, the Modernista facade of Palau Güell stands out among the simple buildings and popular shops in the neighbourhood. It was the first major work undertaken by Antoni Gaudí, and its ornate forms and the innovative conception of space and light give the building great architectural value.
The beginning of Modernisme and Art Nouveau
As a starting point for the fruitful association between Eusebi Güell and the architect Antoni Gaudí, Palau Güell was the first important project that the artist carried out for the industrial tycoon. Built between 1886 and 1888, it is a wonderful example of Modernista architecture for residential use, with the combination of functionality and innovative design that Gaudí used to apply to his work.
The building is situated on Carrer Nou de la Rambla, one of the most emblematic in the Raval neighbourhood. The choice of location is unusual, as a large proportion of the bourgeoisie were setting up home in the new Eixample. So the building stands out like a unique jewel and a rare bird among the smaller, more simple houses in the neighbourhood.
Oriental and naturalist inspirations
In the midst of his Orientalist period, Gaudí took his inspiration for this mansion from Islamic art, particularly Mudejar and Nazarite. This is the reason for the abundance of ceramic tiles, mitre arches and pinnacles in the shape of pavilions or domes. It is also considered to be one of the first Art Nouveau buildings in the world, due to its stylised plant-like and organic shapes, inspired by nature. The building also plays masterfully with the concepts of light, space and volume.
It is worth noting too that it was the first time Gaudí used trencadís, the mosaic finish made from irregular pieces of broken tiles, that was later to become a hallmark of his work. Also, the mansion's chimneys, each one different from the rest, serve to represent the ornamental concept that the architect would later apply to other projects such as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.
Declared a Historical Artistic Monument by the Spanish government in 1969 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Palau Güell is a building of great beauty that should be visited by anyone who wants to understand the work of Gaudí as a whole. It also forms part of the Raval Cultural project, an initiative that aims to provide everyone with access to the neighbourhood's artistic and cultural heritage.