Barcelona’s Casa Lleó i Morera opens to the public

The Lluís Domènech-designed house, in one of Barcelona’s famed modernista blocks, has been restored and now offers tours of its ornate first floor in Catalan, Spanish and English

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Architecture lovers have a new reason to visit Barcelona as one of the city’s most important modernista buildings, Casa Lleó i Morera, opens to the public.

The building, on Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample neighbourhood, has started to run guided tours through its ornate first floor, one that represents some of the finest craftsmanship of the early 20th century.

The Lluís Domènech-designed house forms part of the city’s famed manzana de la discordia or “block of discord”.

The block earned its name due to the presence of three modernista gems by different architects: Casa Lleó i Morera, Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí and Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, representing a supposed clash of architectural visions.

Modernista architecture is a big draw in Barcelona, where Gaudí’s buildings alone attract nearly 10 million visitors a year. Domènech may be less well-known among the general public but in his book Barcelona, art critic Robert Hughes described him as one of the city’s “two architects of genius” (along with Gaudí) during the early 1900s.

The building opens following a two-year restoration project by its owner, the Núñez i Navarro construction company. Guided tours are available daily, in English, Spanish and Catalan and cost €15 (reservations are necessary).

Completed in 1905, the design boasts an ornate facade decorated with sculptures of nymphs and innovations of the time such as cameras and a gramophone. During the Spanish civil war, one of its distinctive rooftop cupolas housed a machine gun nest.

The building is famous for the contributions made by the some of the finest Catalan craftsmen of that era: three well-known mosaicists contributed to the interior and glassmaker Antoni Rigalt’s eye-catching stained-glass windows line rounded galleries overlooking the street, one of Barcelona’s prime boulevards.

One of Domènech’s most famous works, the nearby Hospital Sant Pau, a Unesco-listed world heritage site, has recently restarted public visits after closing for major refurbishment. Another extravagant modernista landmark, Casa Vicens, Gaudí’s first major project, with its dazzling oriental facade, is expected to open as a museum in the next two years.

Casa Vicens, in Grácia, currently a private house, is in the final stages of being sold to Andorran bank Morabanc for a reputed €30m, though current owner the Herrero Jover family says that is hugely exaggerated. As soon as the purchase has been completed the building will be restored before being opened to the public, said a spokeswoman for Morabanc. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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