Follow in the footsteps of Catalan Art nouveau without paying a cent
Article updated 15 April, 2019.
Visiting Barcelona's Art nouveau masterpieces can be an expensive business. Luckily, we're here to help with our 100% free alternative itinerary!
As you may already know, the Art Nouveau movement is referred to as “modernism” in Catalonia. Particularly important in the years between 1880 and 1930, it is at the root of Barcelona’s unique architectural identity.
Gaudí and Art Nouveau: limited accessibility
Traces of Gaudí’s work can be found all over Barcelona, and each year, millions of visitors come to admire some of his most spectacular works.
These prices are due to the fact that Gaudì’s houses are mostly managed by private foundations, and the public funding they receive is far from enough to pay the astronomical costs involved in their upkeep.
Admire Catalan Art Nouveau for free
If entry to Gaudì’s more famous sites is beyond your budget, have no fear! Simply follow the itinerary set out in this article for a very pleasant and, more to the point, completely free introduction to Catalan modernism.
Around the Plaça Catalunya
- Our tour begins in the beating heart of Barcelona, the Plaça Catalunya. Head towards the Passeig de Gràcia, stopping to admire the Casa Pons i Pascual on your right at no. 2.
- Just next door, you’ll find the Casa Antoni Rocamora, a particularly impressive residential structure which takes up a whole block.
- Next, turn left onto the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes in order to access the Rambla Catalunya. All of the buildings on the left hand side from Gran Via to Carrer Diputació are modernist structures. Look at the detail on the balconies and turrets – they’re really quite spectacular!
Passeig de Gràcia
- Take Carrer Consell de Cent and return towards the Passeig de Gràcia in order to admire the façades along the left hand side between Carrer Consell de Cent and Carrer d’Aragó. Particularly notable buildings include the Casa Lleo i Morera by Domenech i Montaner, Puig i Cadalfalch’s Casa Amatller and Gaudì’s Casa Batlló. The architects responsible for these buildings were in perpetual competition – which one gets your vote?
- A fabulous and unexpected vantage point for seeing this part of Barcelona can be found on the terrace on the first floor of a shop, Servei Estació, at 270-272 Carrer d’Aragó: the perfect place for examining the rear of Casa Batlló.
- Carry on up the Passeig de Gràcia as far as the Replay store at no. 60. Go in to admire the spectacular modernist interior. It’s open every day from 10am to 9pm.
- A little further on on the right hand side, the building on the corner of Carrer Valencia is another remarkable example: the Casa Vidua Marfa. The entrance hall can be seen from the street, so have a good look!
- Keep going until you reach Gaudì’s fabulous Pedrera, with its wavy façade. There’s enough to look at to keep you busy for a good few minutes.
- Next, go on up Avigunda Diagonal and keep following your nose until you reach the Casa Fuster, which is now a luxury hotel. Go into the foyer to admire its columns and arched ceiling.
- Go back on yourself and turn left into Carrer Còrsega. At no. 316, stop to admire the rear of the Casa Comalat, an art nouveau masterpiece with its curves and colours. The front of the building is just as beautiful, and is situated on Avigunda Diagonal.
- Just opposite, you’ll find the Palau Baró de Quadras. Home to a foundation, it isn’t a residential building, so don’t hesitate to open the heavy front door and admire the superb foyer.
- Keep on down Avigunda Diagonal until it crosses Carrer Rosselló. Here, you’ll find the Casa de les Punxes, an imposing edifice covered in turrets. Take a look at the entrance hallways, with their modernist stained glass.
- Turn right onto Carrer Bruc, then right again onto Carrer Mallorca. Stop to admire no. 293, Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s Casa Thomas. It’s spectacular! The ground floor is currently home to a designer furniture store, Cubiña. During opening hours, you can go in and admire the sumptuous interior, with its mosaics and intricate woodwork.
Top tips to get the most out of your visit
- A great way of truly appreciating the richness of modernist architecture is to cross the road – no, really! – to alternate between an overview of the buildings and closer inspection of some of their details.
- Many modernist buildings are residential, so you won’t be able to go in. It’s often worth a look through the glass doors to see the hallways, though!
This itinerary can take several hours. If you’re getting ready for a break, the café at the casa Amatller is a great place to stop, and offers good views of the back of the Casa Batlló. The hot chocolate and fruit juices are delicious.
- You may also want to consult our article on places to eat nearby Gaudì’s casa Batlló and la Pedrera
No one itinerary can cover all of Barcelona’s modernist buildings – there are simply too many of them! You’ll come across plenty by accident when strolling the streets of Eixample and elsewhere. Just keep your eyes open, and look up from time to time – it would be a shame to miss them!
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