The Modernism

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan modernism, an urban and rich style which is present in many buildings of the city. This stile appeared in the XIX century around Europe. However, in Barcelona it acquired a very special characteristic due to the Renaixença which developed the city and the architects created pieces of work that raised the cultural level.

The celebration of the Universal Expo in 1888 and the International Expo in 1929 were a key point in the development of this trend.

Antonio Gaudí is the father of the Catalan modernism and he inspired many others such as: Elies Rogent, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Joan Rubió, Enric Sagnier or Domènech i Montaner. This last created the project of the Palau de la Musica Catalana built between 1905 and 1908.

The UNESCO declared the Palau’s concert hall as Worldwide Heritage in 1997, a unique fact in history. It is one of the most important cultural points of the city. It has a central structure of metal covered by glass that led the light enter and turn the hall into something magic. It has sculptures, mosaics, stained glass windows and forges, traditional elements of this art. The Modernism search new ways of building rejecting the industrial architecture and inspiring in the nature to create architectonic pieces of work.

It’s typical that the architects decorate buildings with birds, leafs, flowers, etc. as well as big statues of animals or people, they also use a lot of colours. The windows and the balconies are made of wrought iron inspiring also natural elements. An example of this are the famous spyholes of the Calvet House inspired in the cells of the beehives.

This modernist trend was developed in Barcelona thanks to the rich people and the Catalan feeling of culture and art, throughout this forms they expressed their Catalan identity. Besides, they showed their wealth and status with the impressive and decorated buildings. The walls of Barcelona were demolished in the XIX century and the agricultural areas outside the wall started to be urbanized creating the Eixample. The Cerdà Plan was created in 1859 and suggested the creation of streets and big avenues with three-floors-buildings to connect Barcelona with the nearest villages. The illustrate bourgeoisie ended up living in this area. This bourgeoisie was developed in the second half of the XIX century along with the industrial and cultural development turning this area into a new one. However, the big change came in 1888 with the Universal Expo which changed the city completely. Besides, the Renaixença, a literary trend of recovering of the Catalan language benefitted the artistic manifestations turning the Catalan society into a modern one.

For that reason the Modernism is so obvious in Barcelona, it is a way of expression of the Catalan culture, a feeling that many Catalans share and it is reflected in the facades, natural decorations and brand new materials around the city.