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Casa Batllo History: The Modern Gaudi Masterpiece’s Story! 

The 120-year-old marvelous Casa Batllo, built by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, has been a cultural and artistic marvel in Barcelona since the 19th century. 

It began as an ordinary apartment complex, which underwent a modern architectural transformation!

Visitors planning to explore the stunning architectural marvel must know all about Casa Batllo’s history and its construction’s backstory for an exciting visit.

In this article, let’s look at the detailed timeline of the modern attraction of Casa Batllo, attracting over a million visitors every year! 

Timeline of Casa Batllo Barcelona History

1877: The Construction of the original Paseo de Gracia begins. 

1903: Joseph Batllo purchases the building.

1904: Joseph hires famous architect Gaudi. 

1906: Gaudi completed the construction of the architectural marvel Casa Batllo. 

1936: The death of Joseph Batllo.

1954: The insurance company Seguros Iberia takes over the structure’s ownership. 

1970: Casa Batllo’s first reconstruction.

1993: The Bernat family buys Casa Batllo. 

2005: Casa Batllo is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

How did Casa Batllo Get its Name?

Casa Batllo got its name from its first owner, Joseph Batllo y Casanovas, who bought the entire complex in 1903.

You can see this marvel today because of his decision to hire Antoni Gaudi to work on rebuilding the structure!

He allowed Gaudi to design the complex as he wished, which Joseph had planned to destroy and rebuild. 

Paseo de Gracia’s Transformation 

Paseo de Gracia, where Casa Batllo stands, is one of Spain’s most fashionable streets, known as Jesus Street.

The street plays a massive role in the birth of the architectural marvel Casa Batllo!

In the past, the street was a simple road connecting Barcelona to Gracia, surrounded by beautiful gardens. 

In 1824, a new urban street plan was set in Barcelona to change the city’s look.

The stunning new avenue was completed in 1827, and it became a famous spot as many wealthy people wanted to buy a house in this urban area.

Aristocrats living here in the 19th century took great pride in showing off their expensive horse carriages and masterful riding skills.

The building, which is now Casa Batllo, was a simple construction commissioned by Lluis Sala Sanchez in 1877 on this street.

Emilio Sala Cortez, Gaudi’s architecture professor, designed this building. 

The four-floored building had a spacious basement, garden, and ground floor.

The Batllo Family 

This ordinary building was bought by Joseph Batllo y Casanovas in 1903, which is how the story of Casa Batllo begins! 

Since the unattractive building stood in a prime spot, Joseph Battlo realized he could benefit greatly from the purchase.

He wanted to create a marvel to outshine the nearby Casa Amatller from the 1900s, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. 

He hired the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudi for this project, who also designed Spain’s stunning Park Guell. 

The Construction of Gaudi’s Marvel

Joseph Batllo gave complete design freedom to Gaudi, who suggested that the building be renovated instead of demolished.

Gaudi dedicated two years of his life, from 1904 to 1906, to transform the exterior and interior look of the structure completely!

Casa Batllo’s transformation began when Gaudi changed the look of the Batllo family’s apartment, now called the Noble floor.

He also decided to expand the central patio of light wells, allowing better ventilation and lighting for the structure.

The exterior of the building changed entirely with Gaudi’s new colorful mosaics and the massive dragon-like rooftop!

Even though the structure changed so much in two years, Gaudi still ensured it was a homely, liveable space.

Gaudi’s marvelous transformation of Casa Batllo earned the structure a spot in the competition for the best building in Barcelona in 1906!

Restoring Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo remained under the name of the Batllo family even after Joseph Batllo died in 1934.

His wife took care of the structure until it was passed on to their kids after her death six years later.

The house remained under them till 1954, after which it was purchased by an insurance company named Seguros Iberia.

Between the 1950s and 1990, Casa Batllo was handed over to many tenants and companies, including Seguros Iberia.

They set up their office in the house, and in 1970, they decided it was time to renovate some of the interior rooms. 

In 1983, the color of the external balconies was changed back to its original.

In 1993, Casa Batllo was purchased by the Bernat Family, and many other renovations were done under them.

They began giving out the complex to host various events in 1995, which were in high demand because of the building’s location and architectural beauty. 

A five-week renovation was organized in 2001 to fix the complex’s mosaic and broken glass elements. 

Casa Batllo became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Recently, in 2019, a group of seven professionals from different fields came together to clean the facade and discover techniques to conserve it better. 

They worked on reattaching the missing mosaic tiles and glass from the terrace and other areas.

Iron railings of Casa Batllo were painted, and window shutters were repaired. 

The Bone of Contention Period

Even though the wealthy Catalan citizens get most of the credit for the development of Paseo de Gracia, most of the work was done by architects.

Famous Catalan architects like Antoni Gaudi, Salvador Dali, and many others brought the modern architectural style to Barcelona. 

The Barcelona City Council also held award ceremonies to honor the architects, and this period was known as the Bone of Contention!

Some of the other modernist houses you can see on this street, which put up a mighty struggle during the Bone of Contention, are:

  • Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch
  • Casa Lleo Morera by Lluis Domenech i Montaner
  • Casa Mullera by Enric Sagnier
  • Casa Josefina Bonet by Marcel li-Coquillat 

Casa Batllo at Present

Today, Casa Batllo is one of Spain’s most visited architectural marvels, known worldwide for its fantastical exterior.

In 2002, Casa Batllo opened its doors to the Noble Floor reserved area to celebrate the International Year of Gaudi!

Many cultural visits that still take place today also began in 2002. 

FAQs on Casa Batllo History 

What is the story behind Casa Batllo?

Joseph Batllo hired Gaudi to reconstruct the structure in 1904. Antoni Gaudi instead decided that a renovation would be enough and completed the structure in 1906. He added magical elements to the structure, including a dragon-shaped roof, bright light wells, and a stunning indoor garden

What are some interesting facts about Casa Batllo Gaudi History?

Some facts about Casa Batllo’s construction history include:

• The structure is based on the Modernisme movement, which takes inspiration from organic and natural forms.
 
• The strategic placement of the light wells and windows makes the complex appear open-air!

• The architecture of Casa Batllo is of the Catalan style, with a unique modern twist to it.

• It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural heritage and architectural beauty. 

The 21st-century restoration of the building made it as good as new, as its vibrant colors and delicate designs came to life. 

Who is the current owner of Casa Batllo?

The Bernat Family has been the owner of Casa Battlo since the 1990s. 

Did anyone live in Casa Batllo?

Joseph Batllo lived with his family on the first two floors of Casa Batllo, and he rented out the top floors to tenants. 

Who is Casa Batllo named after?

Casa Batllo is named after Joseph Batllo y Casanovas, who commissioned the new masterpiece’s architecture. 

When did Casa Batllo become a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Casa Batllo became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. 

How long did it take Gaudi to build Casa Batllo?

Antoni Gaudi took two years, from 1904 to 1906, to renovate Casa Batllo.

Featured Photo by Van Ba on Unsplash

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