Casa Vicens in Barcelona is a summer residence that Antoni Gaudí i Cornet designed for Manuel Vicens i Montaner (a stockbroker). Built between 1883 and 1885, it’s considered Antoni Gaudí’s oldest masterpiece, as it was the first major commission the architect received.
Forerunner of the Catalan modernist movement, Casa Vicens combines oriental architectural influences (mainly from India, Persia, and Japan), decorative elements from Hispanic Islamic art (including Nasrid art and Mudejar art), and finishings with plant and naturalistic motifs!
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- Brief History of Casa Vicens in Barcelona
- How to Get to Casa Vicens in Barcelona
- What to See at Casa Vicens in Barcelona
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Brief History of Casa Vicens in Barcelona
When Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to design a residential building for Manuel Vicens i Montaner, he had no experience in the construction of dwellings, as he had only worked on public works (such as the lamps in Plaça Reial, also in Barcelona).
Work on Casa Vicens in Barcelona began in the same year that Antoni Gaudí took over as principal architect of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. For that reason, this summer residence became a project where the artist explored creative solutions in terms of architecture and decoration.
Although it was completed in 1885, Casa Vicens in Barcelona underwent radical intervention between 1925 and 1927, when it was expanded and reconfigured by Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez. Major changes included the removal of the staircase and tribune, the arrangement of the tiles evenly (rather than alternating, as Antoni Gaudí had done), and the creation of a temple to house the old Santa Rita fountain (now vanished).
Did you know that Casa Vicens in Barcelona was part of Spain’s sixteenth set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 29th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Durban (South Africa), between July 10th and 17th, 2005.
Only one other Spanish site was announced in the session: the Doñana National Park (an extension from its original inscription in 1994). However, Casa Vicens in Barcelona wasn’t the only work of Antoni Gaudí to be awarded in this session. Of a total of four works by the architect, there was also Casa Batlló, the Crypt of Colònia Güell, and the Nativity Façade and Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.
Nowadays, Spain is the fourth country in the world and the third country in Europe with the most UNESCO sites, right after Italy and Germany, and tied with France. It has forty-nine heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization!
In the meantime, I’ve already had the opportunity to visit ten of them:
- Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzín, Granada (1984, 1994)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco (2000)
- Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
- Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984)
- Old City of Salamanca (1988)
- Old Town of Santiago de Compostela (1985)
- Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
- Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (2021)
- Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005) – Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Crypt of Colònia Güell, Nativity Façade and Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Palau Güell, and Park Güell
How to Get to Casa Vicens in Barcelona
Casa Vicens is situated on Carrer de les Carolines, a quiet street in the district of Gràcia. To get there from other points in Barcelona, you can take the metro and get off at Fontana or Lesseps stations (both on line 3). Or, travel to Gràcia station by train (lines ES, S1, S2, S5, or S6) or metro (lines L6, L7, S7, or S7T).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
Casa Vicens in Barcelona is open every day of the year (except on January 6th and December 25th), from 10 am to 8 pm (from April to October). And from November to March, the opening hours are from 10 am to 3 pm (on Mondays) or from 10 am to 5 pm (from Tuesday to Sunday).
Tickets to visit Casa Vicens in Barcelona cost €18 (adults) or €16 (students from 12 to 25 years old and seniors over 65 years old), while children up to 11 years old don’t pay admission. And since tickets are €2 more expensive at the local box office, I recommend you buy them through Casa Vicens’ official website.
EXTRA TIP: Holders of the Barcelona Card have a direct -25% discount at Casa Vicens in Barcelona!
What to See at Casa Vicens in Barcelona
Did you know that the Main Façade of Casa Vicens in Barcelona is not the one facing the Carrer de les Carolines, but the one with the Porch, located on the west side? This means that visitors enter through the back and go around a large part of the monument, before exploring its interior!
Antoni Gaudí was responsible for three façades (north, west, and south) and Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez designed the fourth (east) after the adjoining building was demolished. Here, geometric shapes, straight lines, and the use of tiles (designed by Antoni Gaudí himself, from a flower that grew on the site) predominate.
Before entering Casa Vicens in Barcelona, appreciate the wrought iron railing that separates the property from the street. Have you noticed that the central motif is palm leaves? This small detail was conceived by the sculptor Llorenç Matamala and put into practice by the blacksmith Joan Oñós – two artisans who became regular collaborators of Antoni Gaudí!
As for the Main Entrance, the one you see today is not the original plan by Antoni Gaudí. On the contrary, this access (and respective stairs) date from the 1925 expansion! The visit to the interior of Casa Vicens in Barcelona begins in the Entrance Hall and continues on the ground floor, comprising the Dining Room, Porch, and Smoking Room (in addition to the Kitchen and Laundry, which are closed to the public).
The Dining Room of Casa Vicens in Barcelona is a large and sumptuous space, decorated with natural motifs: cherry blossom branches in polychrome plaster on the carved wooden ceiling; stucco ivy on the walls; and figures of herons, flamingos, cranes, sparrows, hummingbirds, and other birds in the doorways.
Few people know, but Antoni Gaudí designed the wooden furniture in the Dining Room! And these pieces fit harmoniously with the landscape paintings by Francesc Torrescassana i Sallarés. Finally, a fireplace covered in embossed glazed ceramics complements this room of Casa Vicens in Barcelona.
Did you know that the current Tribune of Casa Vicens in Barcelona was only restored in the 2015-2017 renovation? Antoni Gaudí’s original design had been replaced by a glass pane in 1925, during the intervention of Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez!
Built as an extension of the Dining Room, this covered porch has a marble fountain, which allowed fresh space on the hottest days and nights.
Opening onto the garden thanks to oriental-inspired wooden trusses, the Tribune provided better lighting and ventilation for the Dining Room (and, consequently, the entire ground floor of Casa Vicens in Barcelona) – two aspects that Antoni Gaudí always sought to optimize in his works.
The Smoking Room of Casa Vicens in Barcelona is a fascinating space, whose oriental atmosphere was much appreciated by the Barcelona bourgeoisie at that time. So, Antoni Gaudí conceived a true “Moorish oasis”, where the plaster muqarnas in shades of blue and gold on the ceiling resemble palm leaves with bunches of dates.
When the Vicens family lived at Casa Vicens in Barcelona, there was a hookah (or water pipe) in the center of the Smoking Room, which was surrounded by various cushions and low stools.
The walls combine tiles with floral motifs (at the bottom) with a paper-mâché coating (at the top). The wooden door you see in the photo is made with a Chinese-style lattice and gives access to the garden.
Bedrooms & Living Room
The first floor of Casa Vicens in Barcelona was intended for the family’s chambers and was therefore the most private and intimate area of the residence. The floor consisted of two Bedrooms, a Living Room, and a Bathroom, in addition to a Balcony (or Terrace) adorned with a wooden and metal bench.
These days, it’s difficult to imagine the original appearance of these rooms, as they have no furniture. But the decorative elements coincide with those on the ground floor, representing vines, reeds, rushes, ferns, and other plants. And the materials used are also the same: stucco, wood, paper-mâché, tile, etc.
The Bathroom of Casa Vicens Bathroom in Barcelona may be a very modest room – when compared to the rest of the building – but it had an important detail: running water (which was not very common in the city at the end of the 19th century)!
Divided into three distinct spaces – Dressing Room, Bathroom, and Toilette (i.e., the Toilet) – the Bathroom is adorned with a plinth in white and blue tiles, which in turn are surrounded by ocher tiles and a tile frieze with floral motifs painted in oil.
If, on the one hand, the floor is a simple gray tile, on the other hand, the beamed ceiling is richly decorated with ceramic reliefs of ivy leaves.
The Attic of Casa Vicens in Barcelona corresponds to the second floor of the monument, formerly reserved for service areas. Today, it’s a large exhibition gallery, where visitors can learn about the history and permanent collection of this UNESCO World Heritage Site!
It’s incredible to think, but this Attic came to accommodate two apartments completely independent from the rest of the house! During the most recent refurbishment, all internal walls and false ceilings were removed, allowing the space to be transformed into a small museum.
If you’ve visited other Antoni Gaudí houses – such as Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, or the Palau Güell – then you already know that the Rooftop is always one of the most specular and photogenic parts. And Casa Vicens in Barcelona is no exception, with its red-brick and green and white tiled towers and chimneys!
With an area of 150 m2, this panoramic terrace was designed as another recreational space and even includes a small temple in the northwest corner (by Antoni Gaudí) and another in the southeast corner (by Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez). Once again, the influences of Islamic and Asian architecture in the structural and decorative solutions are clearly visible.
You’ve probably had the opportunity to explore the Garden of Casa Vicens in Barcelona before visiting its interior. Nevertheless, I decided to save it for the end, so you can enjoy it again in all its fullness!
As I mentioned in the introduction, Casa Vicens in Barcelona was a summer residence. In other words, it’s natural that the Garden was one of the most important components – if not the most crucial!
Unfortunately, the tiny dimensions of this Garden are nothing compared to the ones it had in the past, lost to the construction of houses and buildings.
Finally, it’s interesting to note that the original flora included fruit trees, palm trees, climbing plants, magnolias, and rose bushes, among other plant species.
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