Lluís Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona

Modernista Buildings in the Catalan Capital

Lluís Domènech i Montaner by Ramon Casas

This list of buildings and projects by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona begins with a very early commission he received in 1874 when he returned to Barcelona having completed his architectural studies at Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid.

In 1875, he became a teacher at the newly opened Escola d'Arquitectura de Barcelona and combined teaching and writing as well as politics throughout his architectural career.

Today, Domènech i Montaner is much less internationally famous than his contemporary Antoni Gaudí but at the time, he was probably more influential in Catalan society.

As he was also a theorist and a couple of years older than Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner can be considered the first fully-fledged exponent of the architectural style known as Modernisme.

Furthermore, with many buildings in other towns, Canet de Mar and Reus in particular, he was more prolific than Gaudí and in many ways more practical.

One might say he was more of an architect whereas Gaudí was more of an artist and his interest in politics compared with Gaudí's religiosity back this up.

He worked on many private houses - Casa Lleó Morera and Casa Fuster are fine examples - but the renowned works by Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona are a concert hall for a workers' choir - El Palau de la Música - and a hospital - El Hospital de Sant Pau.

* I'm reasonably certain that this is a complete list of buildings by Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona but if you notice any omissions, please don't hesitate to let me know.


Pantheon of Josep Anselm Clavé

1874 - Pantheon of Josep Anselm Clavé

Panteó 65, Cementiri de Poblenou, Avinguda d'Icària, s/n, 08005 Barcelona

This pantheon for the great Catalan musician Josep Anselm Clavé is located in the Cementiri of Poble Nou.

As it such an early work and was built in collaboration with Josep Vilaseca, it is not completely obvious how much Domènech i Montaner was involved.

1878 - Torre Simon    

Torre Simon by Domenech i Montaner

Carrer Mare de Déu de la Salut, 17-29, Gràcia, 08024 Barcelona

Torre Simon was Domènech i Montaner's first major project after finishing architecture school and is a neoclassical palace built as a summer residence for Francesc Simon Font, who happened to be his uncle's partner in publishers Editorial Montaner i Simon.

The building was converted into a school - Escola Cormar - in 1904 and the original building has undergone many changes over the years making Domènech i Montaner's original design barely recognisable.

Thanks to Carles Saiz for the photo.

1885 - Editorial Montaner i Simon

Editorial Montaner i Simon

Carrer Aragó, 255, Eixample, 08007 Barcelona

Although commissioned by Domènech i Montaner's uncle and his partner Francesc in 1879, the work was actually completed between 1881 and 1885.

Built in brick and iron but with a definite Gothic feel, the building shows early signs of the architectural style that would become Modernisme.

Following a restoration by architects Roser Amadó and Lluís Domènech Girbau, Editorial Montaner i Simon opened as the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in 1990.

The building is now crowned by the Catalan artist's emblematic barbed wire sculpture Núvol i Cadira - Cloud and Chair.

1888 - Hotel Internacional

Hotel Internacional 1888 by Domènech i Montaner

Moll de la Fusta, Ciutat Vella, 08002 Barcelona

Hotel Internacional is one of Barcelona's most celebrated lost buildings, so although you can't visit, I've included it just for the record..

Built for the 1888 Universal Exposition on Passeig Colom now Moll de la Fusta in a record 53 days, the hotel occupied 5,000 square metres of land reclaimed from the sea and with 150 rooms and 30 apartments, it could sleep 600 guests.

The hotel building was demolished as soon as the exhibition was over in 1889.

1888 - Castell dels Tres Dragons

Castell dels Tres Dragons

Parc de la Ciutadella, Ciutat Vella, 08003 Barcelona

Planned as the Café-Restaurant for the Universal Exposition, Domènech i Montaner abandoned the project in June 1888 following disputes with the city council and the building was finished by Josep Forteza just in time for the opening.

In my opinion, the Castell dels Tres Dragons is the first mature Modernist building in Barcelona, as it combines bare brick, laminated iron and ceramic decoration for the first time and boasts a more defined Gothic castle form that was hinted at in Editorial Montaner i Simon.

The castle was later reformed by Domènech to house first the History Museum and later the Zoology Museum and many of the heraldic motifs were added.

1891 - Casa Maria Montaner

Casa Maria Montaner

Carrer Balmes, 63, Eixample, 08007 Barcelona

Domènech built this unpretentious four-storey house on Carrer Balmes for his mother.

It has a few Modernista features but it is so simple and practical that it is difficult to find much say about it.

In fact, the house next door at Balmes, 65 is much nicer and I took quite a few photographs before I realised I had the wrong address.

1891-1896 - Palau Ramon Montaner

Palau Ramon Montaner on Carrer Mallorca

Carrer Mallorca, 288, Eixample, 08037 Barcelona

Domènech i Montaner's uncle, Ramon Montaner originally contracted Josep Domènech i Estapà to build this palace but gave the job to his nephew following early disagreements.

This is a square block surrounded by gardens and the facade boasts ceramic decorations that refer to printing, books and art, a reference to the owner's position as a renowned publisher.

Apparently inside the building has sumptuous but is off limits as it currently houses the Barcelona Delegation to the Spanish Central Government, which as a militant Catalanist would probably upset Domènech i Montaner a great deal.

1896 - Farmàcia Duran España

Farmacia 1896

Carrer Valencia, 278, Eixample, 08007 Barcelona

Now known as Farmàcia 1896, Domènech i Montaner designed the interiors for this chemist's shop owned by fellow Catalan activist Joan Duran i España, who had qualified in Pharmacy at the late age of 37 in 1896.

The interior has undergone changes over the years but reatins many of its original details.

However, there are many much nicer and better preserved Modernista Farmacias in Barcelona and Farmàcia 1896 is mainly of interest because of Domènech i Montaner's involvement.

1898 - Casa Thomas

Casa Thomas 291 Carrer Mallorca

Carrer Mallorca, 291-293, Eixample, 08037 Barcelona

Built for yet another publisher, this time Josep Thomas, Casa Thomas has a neo-Gothic facade and originally only consisted of two floors.

Three more floors were added by Francesc Guàrdia i Vial in 1912.

It is worth peeking through the door at Mallorca 293 to see the stairwell and its fine ceramic tiling and 291 is now occupied by interior designers Cubiña so if you pretend you want buy a sofa, you can see inside.

1902 - Casa Lleó Morera

Casa Lleó Morera by Domènech i Montaner

Passeig de Gràcia, 35, Eixample, 08007 Barcelona

Located on the famous Manzana de la Discordia - the Block of Discord - alongside Gaudí's Casa Batlló and Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó Morera is a reformation of Casa Rocamora originally built in 1864 and the house won the the Barcelona City Council's best artistic building prize in 1906.

Apart from Domènech i Montaner's graceful design of the facade, the interior decoration team consisted of Lluís Bru on mosaics, Antoni Serra i Fiter on ceramics, Antoni Rigalt i Blanch on glasswork, Gaspar Homar and Josep Pey on furniture and woodwork and Eusebi Arnau on sculptures.

The Arnau's marvellous ground floor decorations were vandalised by handbag vendors Loewe and the interiors have recently been reopened to the public through tour guides Cases Singulars.

1902 - Fonda Espanya

Fonda Espanya

Carrer de Sant Pau, 9, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona

This is the reformation of the ground floor of the Hotel España, and although Domènech i Montaner's work has suffered at the hands of later designers, the ceramics, woodwork and sgrafitto with sea motifs are definitely worth seeing as is Eusebi Arnau's alabaster fireplace in the bar.

The best bit was always the restaurant where, when I arrived in Barcelona in the 1980s, you could get a cheap menu del dia meal and be surrounded by extraordinary Modernista art by Ramon Casas.

The restaurant is significantly more expensive these but, given the location just off La Rambla, I definitely recommend a visit.

1902 - Restoration of Casa de l'Ardiaca

Casa de l'Ardiaca Modernista Letterbox

Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 1, Ciutat Vella, 08002 Barcelona

When the Col·legi d'Advocats de Barcelona - the city's Lawyers Association took over this medieval house just outside Barcelona Cathedral in the heart of the Barri Gòtic, Domènech i Montaner was commissioned to do the restoration.

He managed to add a few Modernist features, but as the project was a restoration and the building has undergone changes since, perhaps the only clearly identifiable feature of Domènech i Montaner's work is the charming Modernista letterbox shown in the picture.

Casa de l'Ardiaca now houses Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona.

1902 - Casa Lamadrid

Casa Lamadrid

Carrer Girona, 113, Eixample, 08009 Barcelona

Although this flat narrow townhouse is certainly not an important work, it is very finely decorated and boasts many trademark Domènech i Montaner features.

The first floor balconies are outstanding and the Gothic turret at the top of the house gives it a definite Modernista look.

Similar in dimension to Casa Maria Montaner, Casa Lamadrid is a much more detailed and mature work.

1905-1908 - Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la Música Corner Sculpture

Carrer Sant Pere més Alt, 11-13, Ciutat Vella, 08003 Barcelona

The Palau de la Música Catalana is one of Domènech i Montaner's two great works in Barcelona and is considered the masterpiece of Catalan Modernism.

The Auditorium was commissioned for the choirs of the Orfeó Català and has been one of the city's main concert halls for all types of music for over a century.

The acoustics are excellent and the effect of listening to modern music - in my case, normally jazz - in such ornate surroundings is both disconcerting and inspiring.

El Palau was restored and extended between 1982 and 1989 and deservedly declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

1905-1930 - Hospital de Sant Pau

Hospital de Sant Pau Main Entrance

Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, Horta-Guinardó, 08025 Barcelona

The project for Barcelona's main hospital occupying a massive 9 blocks of the Eixample is Domènech i Montaner's other great Barcelona masterpiece, in which the architect put into practice his belief that people's health would improve if treated in beautiful surroundings.

The first set of pavilions opened in 1911 and are considered a synthesis of Domènech i Montaner's take on Modernism including exceptionally detailed work in brick, iron and ceramics.

From 1914 onwards Domènech i Montaner supervised his son Domènech i Roura until his death in 1923 and the difference between the brilliance of the father and son's work is noticeable.

Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, Hospital de Sant Pau closed to the public and underwent restoration for nearly a decade.

The buildings are now used for international cultural and sustainability projects and Sant Pau opened to the general public in February 2014.

1911 - Casa Fuster

Casa Fuster

Passeig de Gràcia, 132, Gràcia, 08008 Barcelona

Casa Fuster was Domènech i Montaner's last major project in Barcelona and was considered the city's most expensive building at the time.

The three facades are built in white marble and the building combines a mixture of classical and Modernist styles with an interesting Parisian black slate roof.

The building was home to the celebrated Cafè Vienès for decades and in the 1960s a popular campaign saved this lovely building from demolition.

In 2004, Casa Fuster was bought by Hoteles Center and is currently a Five Star Hotel.

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