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As you walk along the Passeig de Gracia, you will spot several modernist buildings, among which is the wonderful Casa Amatller: the home of Barcelona's most famous chocolatier.
We're talking about a building that was designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch and is recognized as being one of the most famous modernist works in Barcelona.
Visiting the Casa Amatller, and other buildings on the elegant Passeig de Gracia, provides an opportunity to relive the atmosphere and culture of that period of the modernist bourgeois era in Barcelona. The Casa Amatller belonged to the famous chocolate entrepreneur and is now the headquarters of the Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art, a foundation that was set up by the descendants of Antoni Amatller in order to preserve the immense cultural heritage of this building and its decor. It is possible to visit the main floor and the attic which are laid out with original furnishings of the period. In addition to this, if you love good quality chocolate, you can sample some of the wonderful Amatller chocolate which is prepared in the vintage kitchen. The price of a ticket and a chocolate tasting is €19.00 for adults, €17.50 for children up to the age of 12 and pensioners and children under 12 years are charged €9.50. You can enjoy a visit with an audio-guide every thirty minutes from 10:00 until 18:00, seven days a week.
The "Apple of Discord" tells the story of the competition and rivalry between Barcelona's three most famous modernist architects: Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Antonio Gaudí and Lluis Domènech i Montaner. Three buildings were at the center of this famous discord, namely the Casa Amatller, Casa Batlló and the Casa Lleo Morera which are situated in the same area of the Passeig de Gracia, at numbers 35, 41 and 43 respectively. The three houses represent the three different interpretations of modernism and each one of them is a delight for the eyes, not only because of the three architects' unquestionable skills, but also as a result of the unbridled competition between them. In fact, a real competition was set up in order to show off the most beautiful work which was full of the most meticulous detail and could be admired by people walking along the street. At that time, there weren't the same issues with privacy as there are now and it was a really visible competition as to who had the most to show off!
Barcelona's new chocolate maker, Antoni Amatller, bought the Casa Amatller towards the end of the 19th century and at the same time, commissioned the complete reconstruction of the building by the famous architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the creator of numerous architectural works, among which was the famous Casa de les Punxes. The reconstruction constituted a radical overhaul of the building which transformed it into a majestic house in the modernist Neo-Gothic style. The house shows off a flat facade which is embellished by decorative floral wrought ironwork and wonderful statues, each of which alludes to the manufacture of chocolate. The building also boasts a courtyard with a gateway and an imposing staircase which leads to the four apartments and a garden.
The Casa Amatller isn't just a wonderful historic building but also the headquarters of the Foundation of the Casa Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art. Those who work for the Foundation are fortunate enough to occupy the first and second floors of the building. And what do these people do? The work of the Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art revolves around furthering the search into the history of Spanish art. The Institute has, in fact, a photographic archive which is open to the public which contains more than 360,000 negatives. In addition to this, there is also a library on site with more than 30,000 titles related to the art world. Furthermore, the Foundation organizes various cultural activities for the public throughout the year together with an educational service which is geared towards schools and a department that focuses on promoting educational and documentary support for those who are interested in the history of art, architects and researchers. But how long has this wonderful entity been in existence? You should remember that the Foundation began its work many years ago: it started in 1943 and since then has been constantly active in the Catalan and Spanish landscape. Its objectives are the conservation and dissemination of information about the artistic heritage of the Casa Amatller and the encouragement to continue the search regarding the history of Spanish art.