Casa Vicens: Gaudi's first work

A colorful and beautiful house without equal, the result of Antoni Gaudí's unique architectural style which emphasizes the principles of a particular style and era both for the city of Barcelona and for the rest of the world.  We're talking about the Casa Vicens, the first urban work that was constructed by the famous Catalan architect which, since last October, has been open to the public and after reading the following article, will clearly become a "must see" that will need to be added to your list of captivating places to visit whilst in Barcelona. 

Casa Vicens
The exterior of Casa Vicens

Barcelona and Antoni Gaudí

If Barcelona were a person, they would be called Antoni Gaudí, the name of the man who contributed so much to the beauty and the internationalization of the city - and who continues to do so even after his death, thanks to the ongoing construction of the Sagrada Familia. Barcelona is Gaudí's city, the place where this extraordinarily talented man left an indelible mark. Among his buildings are those of the Casa Batlló and the Casa Milà, expanses of greenery such as the Park Güell, churches such as the Sagrada Familia and other monuments: the importance of the works by Barcelona's most famous architect are recognized on an international level, so much so that six of his buildings have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  One of those on the list of these wonderful works is the one we are talking about here, his first masterpice, the Casa Vicens.

Casa Vicens: an emblematic museum to a particular style

Casa Vicens was Gaudí's first masterpiece and is the seed from which his further works grew.  It is considered to be one of the first Modernist buildings (Art Nouveau Catalana) and in 2005, was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  In March 2014, the MoraBanc Group decided to buy the building and make it accessible to all for the first time by opening it to the public as a museum.  This decision created plenty of job opportunities and at the same time, contributed to disseminating further knowledge about this cultural heritage throughout the world thanks to the commitment made to the Arts by this great company which ensured the protection of part of Catalonia's cultural heritage, their focus on sustainability and innovation in the city. The mission of the project to turn the Casa Vicens into a museum was to be consistent with the values of Gaudí's architectural vision, revealing the building to be a crucial part of our knowledge of contemporary architecture and the development of Modernism in Barcelona. Gaudí was able to create architectural works that were in harmony with nature by using his innovative genius whilst at the same time, staying true to the Catalan traditions.  One of the most important elements in his work is light: he himself said that "the luminous element of a building has to be respected in every detail because it is the one that speaks to the people."  Casa Vicens was the emblematic beginning of all this, the incomparable style of Antoni Gaudí. 

Interior of the Casa Vicens
Interior of the Casa Vicens

The history and beauty of Casa Vicens

In1883, Manel Vicens commissioned the young architect from Barcelona with the design of his summer house and gardens which were situated in the old town of Gràcia, on the outskirts of Barcelona. The architect said that when he first went to view the site, he found it covered in small yellow flowers which led him to adopt these as the decorative motif for the tiles along with palm leaves (which were made of iron) and became part of the gate and the entrance to the estate. The beauty of the Casa Vicens is astonishing: with its unique shapes, its decorative and symbolic elements which we have come to recognize from this first example of his most famous works which are represented here as the beginnings of a particular style. If you don't get to visit the Casa Vicens, you will never fully understand Gaudí's artistic talent. 

Detail of the iron gateway to the Casa Vicens
Detail of the iron gateway to the Casa Vicens
The structure of Casa Vicens: harmony with nature

Gaudí designed the building originally as a small house on four floors: the basement - which is where he situated the pantry and the kitchen; the one on street level which is where the dining room and the other reception rooms are located and two further floors which were for the bathrooms and servants' quarters. The positioning of the house also left plenty of room for a garden which is the architectural jewel of the entire structure, presided over by an impressive arch that frames a waterfall and guarantees to provide a fresh climate, both inside and out, to this beautiful setting.  The appearance of the house is complex and colorful, governed by geometric shapes and straight lines.  Using just this one element, Gaudí succeeded in creating a bucolic space in which the links and dialogue with the surrounding natural environment are very evident.  In fact, Mother Nature was the most important source of inspiration based on which, the Catalan architect commenced the construction of his entire body of work.  One of the important features of the Casa Vicens, for example, is the iron gate at the entrance to the property which is decorated with palm leaves and zinnia flowers which Gaudí also adopted as the motif for the ceramic tiles on the building's facade.  These references to nature are present both inside and on the outside of the house via the use of different pictorial-decorative techniques.  In addition to this, the Casa Vicens was the first building where the roof was envisaged as being part of the house's habitable structure, somewhere that you could have a stroll, a location that could provide quiet moments of contemplation, particularly as a result of its prestigious position. 

Detail of the yellow flowers on the tiles of the building's facade
Detail of the yellow flowers on the tiles of the building's facade
The gardens of the Casa Vicens

The gardens are perhaps the most iconic space at the Casa Vicens, so much so that Gaudí designed the entire construction around them.  Since this was destined to be a summer house, the architect had situated the house in a position which would guarantee complete peace and somewhere for all its inhabitants to enjoy a rest thanks to maximum exposure to the sun but at the same time, managing to be somewhere cool.  This was one of the reasons why a waterfall was included in the gardens, ensuring that the entire property would always remain fresh and pleasant.  

Visiting the Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens is a truly unique place: a building that is a combination of a home and a museum and somewhere that knowledge and pleasure happily come together.  There are informative tours available, educational activities for families, a restaurant and a shop that focuses on the Casa Vicens.  There are also temporary exhibitions, concerts, debates and a variety of other different cultural activities.  Casa Vicens is a place for sharing and exchanging ideas.  The opening hours are from 10:00 to 20:00 from Monday to Sunday, with the exception of the 25th December and the 1st and 6th January.  The price for entry is €16.00 per person.  If you would prefer to be accompanied by an experienced private guide who knows the city well, you can reserve this service directly on this web page.  You can also buy tickets directly online at: Entry tickets to Casa Vicens.  It is also worth having a look at the various featured articles and itineraries that we would suggest when visiting Barcelona and which have been put together on the basis of different proposals designed to cover a specific number of days in the city: have a look at the articles in the section Visiting Barcelona. Casa Vicens is located at No. 20 Carrer de les Carolines in the neighborhood of Vila de Gracia and is about 5 minutes on foot from the Fontana Metro stop (Green Line L3). 

The reasons why Casa Vicens has been such a success

Even just a few years since the opening of Casa Vicens to the public, it can be said that this residential museum has been and continues to be a great success.  The public, both local and from elsewhere, has been delighted by having the chance to access another (and perhaps the most beautiful) of Gaudí's gems. The merit of this consensus is due in part to the excellent tourist service that is provided.  In addition to being able to book everything online by following a very simple process, Casa Vicens offers practical lockers, large and comfortable cloakrooms, changing facilities for babies, parking for strollers, relaxation areas and is 100% accessible for wheelchair users.  The museum staff are well trained and offer a warm welcome to all.  As well as guides, there are also staff members available to welcome you and to ensure that every visitor is made to feel really "at home." A visit to the Casa Vicens also includes the chance to see a series of different temporary and permanent exhibitions and take part in different educational, artistic, social and cultural activities.  Thanks to these different activities and interpretations of artistic disciplines which are available to all visitors, the museum is able to demonstrate the values on which it is based and which have contributed tremendously to its great success.  This is an active and proactive concept which is designed as the result of continuous investigation, thought and debate surrounding the house and the works of Gaudí in order to make the architect and his first masterpiece better known. Visiting the Casa Vicens today means embracing this vocation and thought process, reflection and permanent interpretation of the great man's work. 

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