One of the first things we stumbled on was the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi's Casa Batllo. This private residence was built for the Batllo family between 1904 and 1906. I was feeling a bit light-headed from the jet lag while we waited in line to get in, but I think that actually enhanced the experience, since this place was like nothing I'd ever seen.
There are still some private residence apartments in the building.
The roofline is sculpted to like a dragon, with iridescent scales.
Just a few blocks away from Casa Batllo is another private residence designed by Gaudi, this one is called Casa Mila, but is better known as La Pedrera (the "stone quarry"). It was built between 1906 and 1912 for the Mila family. Today it is used a cultural center and exhibition space.
La Pedrera got it's nickname from it's grey blocky exterior, which we never got to see as it was covered in scaffolding. The interior spaces, including this view looking up from the base of the courtyard, more than made up for that.
The tour of La Pedrera starts on the roof and works its way down back to ground level. There was a huge line for what looked like very crowded elevators, so we opted for the 9-floor walk up the back stairway instead.
The chain-link fencing on the right side of the next picture makes me think that the original design didn't have much of a barrier from the roof to the interior courtyard.
Here's a detail of the rib vaulting in the attic ceiling. The attic is used as an exhibition space.
As you descend the stairs from the roof to a few floors below the attic, one of the private apartments has been furnished in the style of the early 1900's and is now a walk-through museum.
Casa Batllo and La Pedrera are some of the top examples of Catalan Modernisme (or Catalan Art Nouveau) architecture. These 2 buildings were constructed as family homes, but they also had apartments which could be rented out.
Click here to see more pictures of Gaudi's Casa Batllo and La Pedrera in Barcelona.