Front entrance to the home down in the stables

PALAU GUELL. .. I really tried hard to learn to pronounce the family name Güell. It's something like "well" but that isn't it. The guide at the museum said nobody else was able to pronounce it correctly either. So, I did my best and failed like the rest.

Eusibi Güell i Bacigalupi was a wealthy industrialist and Antoni Gaudí's most important patron. Gaudí built his home in the late 1880's. Güell told Gaudí to use the best of everything when creating this masterpiece, which translated into an unlimited budget to do as he pleased. It was planned as a guest wing and social annex to Güell's main home around the corner on the Rambla. Gaudí used a combination of Art Nouveau (in Spain called Modernisma), Islamic and Gothic styles with a blend of metalwork, stone masonry, marble, broken tile mosaic, and inlaid woodwork.

The basement was a low-vaulted brick stables and big enough to get carriages into. More conventional architects of the day felt that brickwork should be hidden. Gaudí worked, and designed, to a different drummer. And, his brick designs were a thing of beauty. Still, it sounded a little strange to me that horses were kept in the basement. But, just as strange, was the fact that it was also supposed to be where the servants lived. What a miserable life they must have had!

Things went from bad to worse as far as life in those stables was concerned. The entire residence was confiscated during the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 39). Prisoners were tortured in the stables and the entire building was is such bad repair that the owner, Eusibi's daughter Mercè, donated the building to the state. In 1984, the building was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognizing Gaudí's creative contributions for Barcelona and the world.

Unfortunately, the place needs restoration. Since 2004 most of the palace has been closed to the public. Fanciful mosaic chimneys can only be viewed from ground level. The only place to visit on the ground floor is the souvenir shop. What can you see? Those stables. And, the workmanship and design was beautiful.


across the street at number six

Palau Güell is located on Carrer Nou de la Rambla 3 - 5. Just across the street, in building 6, Pablo Picasso set up his studio in 1902 when he was into his Blue Period. Picasso hated Gaudí's work.


Copyright 2009 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.