The apotheosis of Modernism–Lluís Domènech i Montaner

I started with a list of 130 buildings considered part of architectural “Modernisme” in Barcelona. I began collecting them like postage stamps. (some are on my post “Barcelona Modernism”). Whenever Jonathan decides to rest his knees, I go out and look at a few more buildings. This reached its logical conclusion the other day when I walked a huge rectangle to count a few more structures and came home with very sore legs. I am now winding down, checking out a couple more highlights and throwing in the towel on getting to others. I will have checked out more than 86 modernist structures, photographed a lot of them, and saw the inside of a few.

Top of the list after Gaudi’s work come two people (IMO), Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert. The title of this post refers to Domènech i Montaner’s Palau de la Musica Catalana. This building is so ornate that it makes high Victorian look simple. He threw the entire book of modernism at this building and let it all stick.

Originally, the Palau (palace) was created to be the home of Orfeo Catala, a choir group, music school, performing arts organization. Its organization and governance have changed over the years, but it still hosts lots of wonderful concerts, both locally produced and brought in by promoters. One stairwell is a shrine to the first conductor of the Orfeo.

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The main auditorium of the Palau has everything that Modernist designers used. It has columns, tile, stained glass, carved wood, marquetry (inlaid wood), and paint. All these media are then all combined in flat, raised, and 3D forms.

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This is the view up toward the ceiling from my seat. There is a tour to see all this, but a ticket to one of the locally organized concerts was only 6€, so I decided that I’d look around during the intermission. I was looking forward to it, an organ concert by Jennifer Bate, a renowned player, but in the end it was cancelled because the organ computer links malfunctioned, so I didn’t have much to do but take photos for a half hour until the official word came down. It was good for photos, but not much for music. I went home and listened to her play on Apple Music.


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On either side of the stage are carved decorations that are each almost three stories tall.






Around the edge of the stage area is a mosaic frieze of figures with high relief busts at the top of each individual.

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The level of detail is remarkable. This is the only place I have ever seen the balusters or uprights in a staircase made of glass. I would guess there are more than a thousand of them around the theater.

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(See the railing above the figures in the previous photo, as well.)




Ceramic rosettes are featured in several places, at the top of the balusters, on the ceiling of the main auditorium, and at the top of several columns.

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The ceilings are unusually chock full of decoration.

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The pink lines are high relief ceramic tiles. Above the door are carved wood rosettes. On the right is a lamp topped with stained glass circles and on the left is a patinated copper fixture.

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Stained glass panels in a door with a row of glass balusters in the background.




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Lots of tiled columns and stained glass.




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The exterior is equally ornate. This is the base of a pillar.





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Every pillar appears to be tiled with a different pattern.






Last but not least, I visited another building that Lluís Domènech i Montaner worked on, the Casa Lleo i Morera. Here is possibly the most beautiful sun room ever made.

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Who wouldn’t want to sit here?


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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