I have always been attracted to the Art Nouveau style. It’s been a favorite of mine forever (only a slight exaggeration). The attention to detail, the flowy forms, the earthy inspirations, coming together to create interesting and beautiful creations. The ways this style can make everyday objects into a glorious experience. It’s easy to see the connection between the arts and crafts movement with the inspiration of art nouveau. A convergence that results in functional art.
What’s more functional than a building? When art influences the building process, our neighborhoods become lovely. When I see a gorgeous building, I want to enter and explore it. I want to see the details in the ceilings, the doorways, the light fixtures.
Casa Batlló is spectacular. In addition to that, this building tells a story. The Casa Batlló is a representation of the legend of Saint George. I found a website that pinpoints specific points in the building and what they represent. If you are interested, you can explore it yourself. Here’s the link: https://www.casabatllo.es/en/saint-georges-day/
The legend tells a story of a ferocious dragon who was capable of poisoning the air. Its breath would kill. This dragon ravaged and terrorized the town’s people. The people were exhausted of its misdeeds and had the idea that maybe if they fed one of the town’s people to the dragon each day, it would have no reason to be a terror. They had a random drawing of names and selected a person. The princess’s name was drawn. As the princess left home and headed towards the dragon, she was approached by a knight in shining armor riding a white horse. This was Saint George and he was there to save the princess. With one swoop, he stabbed the dragon, freeing the princess of her duty to become dragon feed. The people were saved from the daily sacrifice.
Where the dragon bled out, grew a fantastic rose bush with the reddest roses ever seen. The hero, Saint George, cut a rose from the bush and presented it to his princess. This story fascinated Antoni Gaudí so much that he designed the Casa Batlló with elements of the legend.
(fig 2) (fig 3)
(fig 5) (fig 6) (fig 7)
“The mythical legend is represented in Casa Batlló on the facade and in two specific places inside the house. On the roof, the dragon’s back comes alive with the ceramic tiles in the form of scales (fig 2) and the back is pierced by the cross of four arms that evokes Saint George´s triumphant sword (fig 6).
On the top floor, we find a flower-shaped balcony alluding to the Princess Balcony (fig 3).
On the lower floors, the remains of the dragon´s victims are located on the balconies in the form of skulls (fig 3) and the pillars of the gallery that resemble the bones (fig 4).
In the Batlló family’s private entrance hall, there is a staircase where the upper part looks like the vertebrae of an animal and which, according to popular culture, could refer to the spine of the dragon’s tail. Finally, in the attic, the main hall of the catenary arches reminds us of the ribcage of a large animal (fig 5). (Casa Batlló)”
Every year on April 23rd, European countries, such as England, Greece, and Portugal celebrate the legend of Saint George. The people exchange roses and the Casa Batlló is heavily decorated with roses (fig 7). (Casa Batlló)”
The curvy, almost free-form lines of the roof, the main windows, and into the chimney-like feature of the cross of St. George to the ornamentation in the princess balcony, top center, and the other balconies in skull-like shapes, as well as the decorations of the inside of the building are brilliant examples of some of the best that the Art Nouveau style has to offer. What a phenomenal display of work by Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish architect from Catalonia. The construction of the building began in 1877 and was originally built with very little artistic flair. Gaudí was hired to renovate the building in 1904. The renovations were completed in 1906 and the building was nominated for that year’s best building award.
My wanderlust is as much a part of me as is my blood. This building is on my bucket list! See you in Spain!
Casa Batlló. n.d. 10 July 2018. <https://www.casabatllo.es/en/>.