La Pedrera/Casa Mila
Paseig de Gracia number 92 is another Barcelona address that you'd be foolish not to visit! Casa Mila is another of Barcelona's World Heritage sites, as voted by UNESCO and is one of the most visited attractions the city has to offer.
The building is also known as "La Pedrera" which roughly translates as the Stone quarry, because of the facade which is made up amlmost entrirely of stone. Located in the Eixample district, just a little further along the street from Casa Batlló, La Pedrera is a triumph of modern architecture, as it has no straight lines. Gaudi also employs wrought iron to great effect in the window boxes, like so many of his other works (Gaudi's father was an ironmonger).
Entrance to Casa Mila comprises of a 3 part ticket. First, you can visit a period decorated apartment on the penultimate floor of the building, with furniture designed by Gaudi, and typical of the era. Here you can appreciate the attention to detail and natural light that Gaudi strived for - so important in city urban structures. This floor also has special evenings of concerts by string quartets and the like, called La Pedrera by night.
The Attic of the building houses a fantastic collection of original blueprints, scale models and photographs of many of Gaudi's works. The structure of the Attic is in itself a work of art, with a long central beam curling its way around the ceiling and arched brickwork stemming from this beam to the floor, giving the sensation of being inside an animal's body cavity like that of Moby Dick, for example!
Perhaps the most famous part of La Pedrera, and again a trademark of Gaudi, is the rooftop and it's chimneys. The rooftop offers great views of the mediterranean boulevard of Paseig de Gracia with it's restaurants, pavement cafés, boutiques and designer shops. The chimneys of the rooftop, decorated in the typical broken tiles with which Gaudi is associated have been so admired that modern architects designed the facade of the crucifixion of Jesus on the Sagrada Familia in rememberance of this. It's true that they have their own distinctive style and you could even be forgiven for confusing them with something from George Lucas' Star Wars Saga.
The whole of La Pedrera has visual metaphors of the natural world, and is perhaps the best example of Gaudi's vision in this sense. It was built between 1906 and 1910 for the Mila Family, and as mentioned, it was at the time ridiculed by the public - so far ahead of his time was Gaudi. Nowadays, the Caixa Catalunya bank owns the building and has offices in the basement and uses the first floor/Mezzanine La Pedrera can be visited as part of the entrance and is used as a gallery space by the bank.
Main photo kindly reproduced with permission from Carlos Lorenzo at http://www.barcelonaphotoblog..com
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