BY RENU MEHTA, Barcelona:
It was my last day in Barcelona and I was aimlessly walking the streets with no fixed destiny in mind. I meandered slowly down the Paseo de Gracia, a fully integrated district of the city and slid to a halt as I came to Number 43. Right before me, stood Antonio Gaudi’s grand and majestic Casa Batllo. One could not but be mesmerized by its beauty.
A number of tourists stood outside clicking pictures and I said to myself – what is this unique building? It seemed different somehow from all the other buildings and we had visited quite a few, be it the Casa Mila or the La Segrada Familia as well as a host of other Gaudi buildings in Barcelona.
As we entered the facade, we realized that we had stumbled upon a true masterpiece. Designed and built in 1877 by Gaudi, the house arouses the five senses, focusing on light, colour, airflows and space. The light is so evenly distributed throughout the building that there are no dark corners. It is said that Gaudi studied the movement of air, thereby creating unique ventilation and airing system. The windows become smaller as one walks up the floors, having been built scientifically to spread light evenly through the house. It is a dream home and, considering it was built in 1877, it’s much ahead of its time.
Gaudi used a plaster model to create his buildings, according to an audio recording presented when you enter the building. The main floor has been built as a modular space that can be used as a large area or a cozy space. Each room is distinctive and one can see how everything is planned to perfection. Different hues of blue tiles cover each landing, as the colours change from a lighter to darker shades. The house itself reminds you of a summer afternoon spent on the Mediterranean Sea, where the colours reflected in the glass make you believe you are actually out on the ocean and can see the diverse kind of fish.
As one walks upstairs to the various floors, the winding staircase is itself a beauty to behold where the banister seems to mould to your palm. The door handles are unique and it is said that the architect created these with his own hands, first designing them as plaster models.
Be it the glorious terrace where one can sit out to enjoy the sunshine or the distribution of water for the building, the architect certainly thought of everything when he designed it. And to top it all, there are 27 chimneys spread out on the summit of the building so as not to obstruct the view and resemble the Dragon’s back. The view of Barcelona alone from the roof is worth a visit.
A 100 people maintain the UNESCO preserved heritage site.
Barcelona is truly the city of Gaudi, the eternal architect born on June 25, 1852, whose buildings and masterpieces are strewn all over the city, each one more brilliant than the other (visitbarcelona.com)