As a first-year university student, I made a scheduling mistake which would haunt me for four months … Art History at 8:00am. What made this such a dunderhead blunder was not only the inhumane time of day, but the class format. Picture a barely-awake novice, sitting in a darkened hall with 250 strangers, while listening to a monotone lecture, and watching a repetitious slide show of classic art and world-famous architecture. Today, this type of class sounds very interesting, but in those days it was torture. However, Art History was a requirement, so a passing grade was a must. Which brings me to the Palau de la Musica Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music.)
A large part of the final exam was re-watching the slide show of the professor’s “greatest hits” and identifying the art or building.
The things I should’ve been remembering were, “flying buttresses + Gothic architecture = Chartres Cathedral.”
What I actually remembered was, “long copper roof + funky lizard downspouts = Chartres Cathedral.”
This may sound like a formula for failure, but my memorization skills were good, and luckily, there were a few buildings that were so unique I recognized them immediately. And the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, Spain is a prime example.
At the end of the 19th Century, the Catalonia region of Spain was a hotbed of nationalistic fervor. With a unique, centuries-old language and culture, the people in general, and the Modernisme Movement specifically, wanted independence and recognition as a country on par with all the other countries of Europe. And architect Lluis Domenech Montaner, designer of the Palau de la Musica Catalana was one of the prime movers in the movement.
Montaner and his contemporaries, such as Antoni Gaudi, wanted their buildings to be uniquely Catalonian. And this distinctively flamboyant structure must certainly be one of a kind.
What made Montaner’s buildings different were the extensive use of curves rather than straight lines, asymmetrical design, and rich decoration and detail both inside and out.
I particularly like the glass and ceramic balustrade, and the richly colored mosaic columns.
The main concert hall, with its exquisite stained-glass ceiling is also spectacular.
In fact, there was so much detail, it was difficult to find a part of the building which wasn’t a beautiful work of art. And luckily, this amazing venue is still used today.
One of the pleasures of travel is to experience the real deal, and not just the photograph. The wonderful Palau de la Musica Catalana was a pleasure to see, and a nostalgic flashback to a time when I should have been paying more attention.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like others in our Barcelona Series:
Making a Grand Entrance in Barcelona
Barcelona’s Motivational Chariot of Fire
Barcelona is Foodie Heaven
I Say Gaudi …You Say Gaudy
I’ll Take Barcelona Odds and Ends for 500 Alex!
Lasting Impressions: Barcelona
2. By jordi domènech via Wikimedia Commons
4. By Jaume Meneses via Wikimedia Commons
7-9. By Josep Renalias via Wikimedia Commons