The Block Of Discord
The Manzana de la Discordia or Block of Discord is the name given to a section Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district of Barcelona.
The Block of Discord is so named because in less than 100 metres we find a major building by each of Barcelona’s trio of star Modernist architects.
Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí are not only in very contrasting styles but are also considered signature pieces by each of the architects, so the name also hints at the rivalry between the three men.
The Block of Discord is located on Passeig de Gràcia between Carrer Consell de Cent and Carrer Aragó and also houses the very fine Casa Mulleras by Enric Sagnier and the unspectacular Casa Bonet by Marcel·lià Coquillat.
Look out for it on your left, if you take one of the Barcelona Sightseeing Bus routes that goes up Passeig de Gràcia.
The picture above shows the roofs of the five buildings – Casa Batlló is in the foreground, followed by Casa Amatller and the turret on the roof of Casa Lleó Morera is at the far end.
The Significance of the Name
The name Manzana de la Discordia is in Castilian Spanish, and is a play on words.
Una manzana can be translated as both ‘a block of buildings’ and ‘an apple’.
The architectural meaning of ‘Block of Discord’ is very clear and refers to the contrasting architectural styles of and rivalry between the Modernist architects Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Antoni Gaudí i Cornet.
‘The Apple of Discord’ was used in the satirical press at the time and also refers to an incident in Greek mythology – the wedding of Peleus and Thetis.
The picture shows ‘The Golden Apple of Discord’ by Jacob Jordaens, and this is the myth it portrays.
All the Greek Gods had been invited to the wedding except Eris – the Goddess of Discord – who turned up anyway and placed a golden apple amongst the wedding presents.
The apple had the word Kallisti – the most beautiful – written on it and immediately became a bone of contention between Athena, Hera and Aphrodite.
To avoid argument Zeus designated the decision to Paris, who chose Aphrodite because she promised him Helen of Troy in return and so the incident sparked of the War of Troy.
Consequently, the two meanings of ‘Manzana de la Discordia’ definitely refer to the the rivalry between the three architects and their desire to create the most beautiful building in Barcelona if not the world.
Catalan or Spanish?
It’s worth pointing out that the word play doesn’t work in Catalan as the words for block and apple are illa and poma respectively.
This section of Passeig de Gràcia is generally referred to in Catalan as L’Illa de la Discordia – The Isle of Discord, which despite my passion for the Catalan language loses something in translation.