Last Updated on June 29, 2023 by Christian Heide
Casa Amattler in Barcelona was the residence for the Amatller family finished in 1898. The family owned a leading chocolate making business in the Santa Maria del Mar neighbourhood in El Born. Antoni Amattler chose the grand boulevard of Passeig de Gracia as the new home and they settled there as so many other very rich industrial families from Barcelona. However, as the couple separated Mr Amatller lived alone in the house with his daughter, Teresa. They lived on the first floor, the beletage, and rented out the rest of the building in smaller apartments to other rich families.
The architect, Josep Puig I Cadafalch
The family commissioned one of the top architects of their time with the design and construction of the building: Puig I Cadafalch. This renowned architect was part of the art movement of Catalan Modernism – predominant in Barcelona between 1880 and 1915. Next to Gaudí and Domenec I Muntaner he left a great legacy throughout the city as well with more than 20 buildings alone. Further 30+ works can be found in the rest of Catalonia, among them are Casa Martí, also known as Els Quatre Gats, Fàbrica Casaramona or the winery of Caves Codorniu in Sant Sadurní.
Puig was a very active ambassador of Catalan culture and was actively involved in politics. He served as a Barcelona City Counsellor and later also in the Spanish Parliament for some years.
Casa Amatller, the building and architecture
Puig I Cadafalch was inspired by the medieval palaces of the rich merchants who lived in the El Born area in the 14th and 15th century. He picked up a lot of Gothic style elements from those buildings. This can be easily spotted on the façade of the building: A grand bay window for the bedroom of the daughter covered with Gothic roses and gargoyles. The gable of the building resembles Gothic architecture from Flanders. Houses in Bruges or Amsterdam look very similar with this staircase gable. For the façade the architect used the exquisite technique of Sgrafitto: artisans pushed templates of an elaborated flower shape into the fresh plaster. The two levels were painted in different colours. This way it gives it a much more plastic design with a lot of depth.
Along the main entrance you will encounter beautifully integrated sculptures. Most striking is Saint George slaying a dragon. He is the patron saint of Catalonia and extensively celebrated every year on April 23. Furthermore, you will see a painter and a sculpturer. Mr. Amatller was a lover of fine arts. His collection can still be admired within the family residence. The architect makes a wonderful tribute to this hobby of the master of the house.
Another passion of Amatller was photography. He travelled around the world with his camera and brought home many impressions from his encounters while being abroad. The architect includes this as well in several occasions. For example, in the middle of the façade you will find an old fashioned camera on a tripod or above that a coat of arms including a camera with a lens.
When stepping into the foyer of the building it feels like stepping into the courtyard of a beautiful palace covered with a magnificent glas cupola made out of stained glass. Flowers are predominating as a typical Modernist element. In the back of the building, today a café, you will find the remains of the original kitchen.
Casa Amatller is a true gem in Barcelona, yet not as discovered as Gaudí buildings. This makes it especially fascinating to anybody with an interest in Modernist design and architecture.
One of the best guided tours of a Modernist residence in Barcelona
You can book a self guided tour through the family apartment. Step back in time and discover the various private rooms that were reverted to their original state. After the 60 minutes tour you will finish with a cup of hot Amatller chocolate, a great way to enjoy one of the finest chocolates.For us this is one of the best examples to experience a true feeling of how it was to live as an extremely rich family in Barcelona around the turn of the century. Find more information about a visit of Casa Amatller here.
Other things to do in Barcelona
Join The Barcelona Feeling´s walking tour “Gaudí & Barcelona Legends”. During this two hours experience you will learn about the Modernist architecture in Barcelona. We touch several architects and also have a glimpse into Casa Amattler. Understand how the architects were inspired by the most important legends from Barcelona. We will also make the connection to present days independence movement.