Palau Güell (or Güell Palace, in English) is a building in Catalan Modernist style, which was designed by Antoni Gaudí to serve as a residence for Eusebi Güell and his family. Built between 1886 and 1890, the palace is located in the El Raval neighborhood (in the Ciutat Vella district), in the historic center of Barcelona.
When industrialist and politician Eusebi Güell commissioned this first major work from Antoni Gaudí, the young architect was still far from becoming one of the most celebrated Catalan artists of all time. But the truth is that, after Palau Güell, Eusebi Güell became Antoni Gaudí’s most important patron and client, as the Park Güell and the Crypt of Colònia Güell are examples!
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- Brief History of Palau Güell
- How to Get to Palau Güell
- What to See at Palau Güell
- Main Façade
- Stable & Courtyard
- (Second) Vestibule & (Second) Staircase
- Antechamber (or Anteroom)
- Hall of the Lost Steps
- Visitors' Room & Ladies' Powder Room
- Central Hall
- Hall of Intimates & Bay Window Room (or Smoking Room)
- Dining Room
- Southern Terrace & Rear Façade
- Musicians' Balcony (or Minstrels' Gallery)
- (Second) Hall of Intimates
- Isabel Güell's Bedroom
- Eusebi Güell's Bedroom
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- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of Palau Güell
Eusebi Güell already owned another property on La Rambla when he commissioned Antoni Gaudí to design Palau Güell. In other words, this mansion began as an expansion of that first house and, as such, the young architect included a glazed passageway to connect the two buildings and which can still be visited today on the main floor!
Antoni Gaudí took about four years to finish Palau Güell which, despite its complex structure (which involved problems of lack of space, poor lighting, and insufficient ventilation), presents harmony, balance, and symmetry with regard to its interior spaces.
But the main legacy of this bourgeois palace was the architectural and decorative solutions devised by the Catalan architect, which served as a “rehearsal” for future masterpieces (such as Park Güell, the Casa Batlló, the Casa Milà, the Crypt of Colònia Güell, and the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia)!
Did you know that Palau Güell was part of Spain’s first set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 8th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Buenos Aires (Argentina), between October 29th and November 2nd, 1984.
Four other Spanish sites were announced in the session: Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada; the Burgos Cathedral; the Historic Center of Cordoba; and the Monastery and Site of the Escorial in Madrid. However, Palau Güell wasn’t the only work of Antoni Gaudí awarded in this session. Of a total of three works by the architect, there were also the Casa Milà and Park Güell.
Nowadays, Spain is the fifth country in the world and the fourth country in Europe with the most UNESCO sites. It has fifty 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 Palau Güell
Did you know that Palau Güell has six floors and two mezzanines? Yes, you read it right! Even so, only two were inhabited full-time by the Güell family (the noble floor and the bedrooms’ floor, that is, the fourth and sixth floors):
- Basement – Stable & Courtyard
- Ground floor – Vestibule; Coach House & Storage Area
- Mezzanine Floor – Vestibule & Staircase; Eusebi Güell’s Office & Administrative Rooms
- Main Floor – Antechamber; Hall of the Lost Steps; Visitors’ Room & Ladies’ Powder Room; Central Hall; Hall of Intimates & Bay Window Room (or Smoking Room); Dining Room; Billiard Room & Painting and Sculpture Workshop; Southern Terrace; Corridor
- Mezzanine – Musicians’ Balcony
- Bedroom Floor – Hall of Intimates; Children’s Room & Isabel Güell’s Bedroom; Isabel López’s Bedroom; Eusebi Güell’s Bedroom; Bathrooms & Blue Room
- Attic – Attic Area; Servants’ Staircase
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
Palau Güell is open from Tuesday to Sunday (including holidays on Monday), from 10 am to 5:30 pm (from October 1st to March 31st) or from 10 am to 8 pm ( from April 1st to September 30), with the ticket office closing at 4:30 pm and 7 pm, respectively. Other than Mondays, the only annual closing days are the fourth week of January (for maintenance), January 1st and 6th, and December 25th and 26th.
As for tickets, they cost €12 (adults), €9 (students aged 18 or over, European Union citizens aged 65 or over, and Barcelona Card holders), or €5 (children and young people aged 10 to 17 years, and holders of the Youth Card). Nevertheless, there are days when entry is free for everyone:
- First Sunday of each month
- February 12th (Festes de Santa Eulàlia)
- April 23rd (Diada de Sant Jordi)
- Third Saturday of May (European Museum Night)
- September 11th (Diada Nacional de Catalunya)
- September 24th (Festival La Mercè)
- December 15th (Eusebi Güell’s Birthday)
TIP: Before buying your ticket, check the admission fees on the official website of Palau Güell, as there may be seasonal offers. For example, when I visited Palau Güell, there was a flat rate of €5!
What to See at Palau Güell
The Main Façade of Palau Güell is marked by the two parabolic arches in the center, which accommodate the large wrought iron gates.
In fact, wrought iron is the decorative material that stands out the most here, as you can see from the railings on the windows and balconies. Apart from that, the structure was built almost exclusively in limestone from the Massís del Garraf (in the Serralada Litoral Catalana).
A very curious detail on the Main Façade of Palau Güell is the Coat of Arms of Catalonia, installed between the entrance doors. Also made of wrought iron, it’s crowned by a phoenix, a symbol of the Renaixença (a 19th-century Catalan literary and cultural movement).
Stable & Courtyard
The basement of Palau Güell was used as stables and the access was made by two different ramps: a helical ramp with a gentle slope, through which the horses went up and down; and a steeper spiral ramp used by the servants of the palace.
However, the most notable feature of this space is the thick brick pillars with mushroom-shaped capitals, that support much of the building’s weight. On this underground floor, there’s also a small inner Courtyard, which provides ventilation and light to the Stable and was used to collect rainwater.
Like any other mansion from that time, the ground floor of Palau Güell was intended for the reception of guests. The difference is that, in the Vestibule of Palau Güell, it’s already possible to perceive the wealth, luxury, and ostentation in which its owners lived. I mean, with this monumental marble staircase, Eusebi Güell certainly impressed his visitors from the moment they arrived!
As there are two entrance gates – which, technically, form two vestibules or a double vestibule – the main staircase stays in the middle. Now, if you follow one of these accesses to the back of Palau Güell, you’ll reach the Coach House (where the carriages were kept) and the Storage Area (where the servants preserved the agricultural products). These days, this area houses the Cloakroom, and the Shop and Bookstore.
(Second) Vestibule & (Second) Staircase
The intermediate floor of Palau Güell is a mezzanine, which continues the decorative atmosphere of the ground floor.
Here, Eusebi Güell’s Office and a series of Administrative Rooms (including the Archive and Library) were located, as well as the (Second) Vestibule & (Second) Staircase, which gave access to the main floor of the residence.
As you may have noticed from the photo, this Vestibule & Staircase of Palau Güell are all made in Garraf marble, with the exception of small details in wrought iron.
And the floor is covered with a mixture of marbles of different colors (beige, red with yellow veins, and gray with white veins), forming a kind of chessboard!
Antechamber (or Anteroom)
The first room on the main floor of Palau Güell is, of course, the Antechamber (or Anteroom). And, although the entrance hall is not exactly the most important room in a house, Antoni Gaudí didn’t neglect its decoration and incorporated different materials (marble, iron, glass, brass, wood, etc.)!
Firstly, as soon as you go up the Staircase, you come across the colorful stained glass windows inspired by the English style of the late 16th century. And, above these same stairs, there’s still a lamp in brass and etched glass, from the time when the Güell family lived in the palace, along with two stained glass windows with the initials of Eusebi Güell!
Hall of the Lost Steps
When Antoni Gaudí designed Palau Güell, he made a point of arranging the main halls and rooms of the house around a majestic hall, which is almost as tall as the building. One such example is the Hall of the Lost Steps, a room that occupies the central front part of the noble floor.
The Hall of the Lost Steps was the place where visitors passed to reach the Central Hall of Palau Güell. And its decorative elements and architectural details (such as the wrought iron gas lamps or the columned gallery overlooking the Carrer Nou de la Rambla) immediately impressed them!
Visitors’ Room & Ladies’ Powder Room
The Visitors’ Room has one of the most fascinating ceilings in Palau Güell, with coffers carved in fine woods and wrought iron, and finishings in gold leaf. Eusebi Güell was a renowned host of concerts, gatherings, banquets, and soirées, so he needed a sumptuous palace to dazzle his friends. And the architect responded to this request, by working only with high-quality materials!
Also worth mentioning are the stained glass windows with Shakespearean characters and very similar to those in the Antechamber. As you can guess from the name, this is where guests waited before entering the Central Hall. In the door adjacent to the Visitors’ Room, there’s a Ladies’ Powder Room with period furniture.
With over 80m2 and 17 meters high, the Central Hall is the “heart” of Palau Güell. At the time the mansion was inhabited by the Güell family, this large hall hosted all kinds of social and cultural events – which is why Antoni Gaudí equipped it with a chapel and an organ console.
In my opinion, the parabolic dome that crowns the Central Hall is one of the most brilliant ideas of the Catalan architect. Supported by four parabolic arches, the cupola is covered with hexagonal alabaster pieces perforated, which allow the passage of natural light in order to simulate a “starry sky”!
Hall of Intimates & Bay Window Room (or Smoking Room)
This double living room, located at the back of the main floor of Palau Güell, was reserved for the closest friends of the owners. On the one hand, the Hall of Intimates was frequented by the ladies of the house and their female guests, and it had a very elegant and feminine decoration. Also, it was here that Eusebi Güell’s six daughters took piano lessons and performed at recitals.
On the other hand, the Bay Window Room was the typical Smoking Room found in bourgeois houses at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast to the neighboring Hall of Intimates, it was a typically male space. And the glass partition that separates it from the Dining Room served precisely to prevent tobacco smoke from entering the dining area.
Did you know that the furniture in the Dining Room of Palau Güell is still the original?
In addition to the dining table and twelve chairs – Eusebi Güell and Isabel López had ten children – there’s a walnut wood fireplace, designed by Camil Oliveras i Gensana.
This renowned artist belonged to the first generation of Catalan modernist architects, with Lluís Domènech i Montaner (author of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and the Palau de la Música Catalana) and Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas (author of the Arc de Triomf).
Camil Oliveras also created the skirting boards in walnut wood, with oriental-inspired bas-reliefs of leaves and fantastic animals.
Southern Terrace & Rear Façade
The Southern Terrace is at the back of Palau Güell and can be accessed from the Dining Room, the Billiard Room & Painting and Sculpture Workshop, and the Corridor.
The views you have from this space are the terraces of the buildings on three streets: the Carrer de Lancaster, the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, and the famous Rambla dels Caputxins (better known as La Rambla).
Despite that, the most relevant element of this patio is the bay window made of wrought iron and tile panels, and with folding shutters – the same one you see in the Bay Window Room (or Smoking Room)!
The Rear Façade is complemented by a balcony on the upper floor, which joins Eusebi Güell’s Bedroom to Isabel López’s Bedroom and is protected by a wrought-iron brise-soleil.
Musicians’ Balcony (or Minstrels’ Gallery)
The sublevel of Palau Güell is called the Musicians’ Balcony (or Minstrels’ Gallery), as this was where the orchestra stayed when concerts were held in Central Hall.
This mezzanine, which connects the main floor to the bedrooms’ floor, has a wooden lattice in Arabic style, decorated with ivory inlays.
Eusebi Güell and his family members were great fans of the arts, especially music, painting, architecture, and literature.
In fact, the couple’s eldest daughters – Isabel Güell i López and Maria Lluïsa Güell i López – dedicated themselves professionally to the arts: the former became a composer, while the latter was a painter, pianist, organist, and composer!
(Second) Hall of Intimates
The first room of this fourth floor of Palau Güell (or sixth, if we count the two mezzanines) is called the (Second) Hall of Intimates.
Since this was a floor entirely dedicated to the bedrooms of the Güell family, only the owners of the house and the servants had access to the bedrooms, the bathrooms, and this living room.
Currently, the (Second) Hall of Intimates no longer contains any piece of furniture – although it’s still possible to admire the magnificent fireplace.
Like the other rooms on this floor, the (Second) Hall of Intimates has access to a glazed gallery, from where you can contemplate the Central Hall.
Isabel Güell’s Bedroom
As I mentioned earlier, Isabel Güell i López was the firstborn of Eusebi Güell and Isabel López. So it’s not hard to understand why she was entitled to her own bedroom and powder room, right?
The other children slept in an adjoining bedroom (the Children’s Bedroom), while the younger ones stayed with the nannies in the Blue Room.
Isabel Güell’s Bedroom faces the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, at the front of Palau Güell. And on the small balcony, Antoni Gaudí once again included stained glass windows with Shakespearean figures (as in the Visitors’ Room).
The Catalan architect also designed numerous furniture, lamps, and fireplaces for this palace (like the one in Isabel Güell’s Bedroom)!
Eusebi Güell’s Bedroom
Eusebi Güell and Isabel López slept in separate bedrooms, as was the custom at that time. Still, they have several features in common.
The most obvious is a very discreet small loggia, which offers panoramic views of the Central Hall. In this way, the owners of the house could control everything that happened on the lower floors from the privacy and intimacy of their chambers.
Another example of these similarities is the fireplaces, as they were both executed by Antoni Gaudí.
And, of course, let’s not forget that the two suites are interconnecting and share the same balcony, facing the rear of Palau Güell!
The last spot highlighted in this guide about Palau Güell is probably the most photogenic of them all. I’m talking about the Rooftop, a recreational space allied to functionality. Altogether, there are twenty chimneys spread over this rooftop, all of them sculpted with different materials, shapes, and colors.
At the top of the 15-meter-tall spire, which protects the impressive dome of Palau Güell, Antoni Gaudí placed a weathervane with three scenographic elements: a Greek cross, a bat (the heraldic symbol of the Crown of Aragon), and a wind rose.
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