One of Antoni Gaudi's most classic buildings is well-known for its "dragon-back" design
Also known among locals as the “House of Bones,” Casa Batlló seems to have been designed with the shapes of organic viscera in mind. Built for the middle-class Batlló family who purchased the building in 1900 due to its central location and (originally) undesirable appearance, Gaudi’s redesign of the facade and interior of the structure made the address priceless. The facade is divided into three distinct sections, each reflecting a level of anatomy. The base level looks as though it is gridded by huge abstract bones, while above that the front takes on a more chaotic, abstract pattern echoing blood vessels and muscle, and then the entire structure is capped with a scaly roof section that looks like nothing so much as the back of a giant dragon.
The interior of the building is no less organic. While Gaudi only remodeled an existing building, it would be hard to tell from the smooth, undulating insides of the large noble hall. Walking the halls is like strolling through the soft organs of some immense creature.
The Batlló’s have long since vacated the building, but it is still open as a museum dedicated to the architect and visitors can experience the unique building for themselves.
The Montjuïc Cemetery is a unique place, to be sure, with unusual and modernist graves.
Opened in March of 1883, Montjuïc is the biggest cemetery in Barcelona. It’s placed on the top of Montjuïc, which itself is a nice little mountain beneath the Mediterranean sea. You can find there famous graves in the cemetery, like those of Lluis Companys (1882-1940), Buenaventura Durruti (1896-1936), Joan Miró (1893-1983), and many more. If you walk to the top you can see a crematorium from Roman times. The journey to the crematorium is a very long walk. It takes more than 3 hours to tour the entire cemetery.
In a silent western wing of the cemetery is el Fossar de la Pedrera (the Grave of the Quarry). An estimated 4,000 people were buried there after their execution by the Franco regime following the fall of Barcelona to fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. The quarry contains memorials to the victims of fascism and the holocaust, Lluis Companys (the last president of Catalunya before the civil war) and, recently, a monument commemorating the aspirations of the social revolution of 1936. El Fossar de la Pedrera is a moving and melancholy place.
Walking through beautiful modernist graves, surrounded by pines and watching the sea. Experiencing this cemetery is widely considered to be one of the most enjoyable experiences in Barcelona.
The archetypical hedge maze sitting in the center of Barcelona’s Parc del Laberint d’Horta (Labyrinth Park of Horta) is one of the city’s hidden gems, having delighted visitors for centuries making it the oldest garden in the city.
Work on the labyrinth and the surrounding gardens began in 1791 as part of a wealthy estate owned by the Desvalls family. The maze and its attendant Italian-inspired terraces were part of the original construction that is today known as the Neoclassical section of the park. The majority of the rest of the park was created in the mid-1800s, and is now known as the Romantic portion, however as the name implies, it is the central labyrinth that really steals the show.
The tall manicured hedge walls of the maze create over 2,000 feet of twists and turns for visitors to get lost in. Anyone who makes it to the center will find a statue of Eros, Greek God of Love, implying that the romantic part of the garden existed even before any expansion. There are also pavilions that overlook the maze and feature their own statues of Greek gods. There is also a picturesque pond at one end.
The gardens were given over to the city of Barcelona in the 1960s and are now a public park. Since it is set off from the regular tourist strips the Horta labyrinth remains a magical little secret for those willing to get a little lost.