There are corners of Barcelona full of history well worth discovering. The Passeig de Gràcia is one such area, one of the city’s most important thoroughfares, starting at Plaça Catalunya and stretching all the way up to the neighbourhood of Gràcia. The students of the Barcelona Campus of EAE Business School had the chance to gain a first-hand insight into the Art Nouveau delights of the most iconic buildings on the Avenue.
On the tour, the guide emphasized the importance of the artists who formed part of this acclaimed architectural movement, of which the Passeig de Gràcia is one of the most spectacular showcases. In fact, one section is known as the Manzana de la Discordia (Block of Discord) because it is the site of several acclaimed works of Art Nouveau architecture, including buildings designed by the architects Antoni Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, with the block having been declared a World Heritage site.
During the visit, the guide recounted stories about how, centuries ago, this emblematic Catalan street was countryside, and it was the bourgeoisie who built their majestic houses designed by the famous architects. Moreover, the Passeig de Gràcia is similar in style to the Champs Elysées in Paris. It is the third most expensive commercial street in Spain in terms of rent.
The students admired Casa Amatller, designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch between 1898 and 1900, and they even had the chance to enter the main lobby to admire the beautiful ornamentations typical of the Catalan Art Nouveau movement, filled with odes to nature, exemplifying the mosaic technique with a diverse range of colours and figures, representing the history of Catalonia, such as the legend of Sant Jordi (Saint George) and the dragon. Next door, Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, is one of the most visited buildings in the world both inside and out.
Next on the visit, the participants stopped off at La Pedrera, one of Gaudí’s most emblematic works. Since it was opened to the public in 1987, this iconic building has welcomed more than 20 million visitors (around a million each year). The building is exemplary of Gaudí’s fullest artistic glory, forming part of his naturalist period (the first decade of the 20th Century), when the architect perfected his personal style, inspired by the organic forms of nature, and developed innovative structural solutions based on a ruled geometry approach created by the Spanish architect.
To gain a broader overview, the Passeig de Gràcia includes splendid buildings with luxury stores, as well as cafés and restaurants, with the constant comings and goings of locals and tourists who do not want to miss a single detail. Many of the Art Nouveau buildings are occupied by leading companies and hotels. The students of EAE Business School also had the opportunity to go up to the terrace of the Hotel Condes de Barcelona to enjoy the spectacular views of the avenue.
For Isaac César, a student on the Master in Project Management, this was his first cultural visit with EAE. “It is really interesting because I have walked along this avenue but I never knew its history”. He hopes to go on more visits, as his friends who have studied at the School recommended that he made the most of such opportunities. With respect to his Master, he is really satisfied and emphasized the quality of the lecturers. He hopes to find an internship soon and then travel.
Verónica Navarrete, a student on the Master in Marketing and Commercial Management, also mentioned that this was her first visit and she has really enjoyed it. “It is really worthwhile because you stand in front of these great buildings and they explain every detail, their origin, the architects, and so on. You learn more every time you look at them”. When she finishes her Master, Verónica would like to go back to her country.