La Pedrera, formerly known as Casa Mila is the largest civil building designed by Antoni Gaudí. This is one of his most innovative landmarks and has become a work of art in its own right. The apartment block was constructed between 1906 and 1910. It was Gaudí’s last work before devoting himself to the construction of the Sagrada Família. It has been declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1984. Today it is a cultural centre and the headquarters of Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera and houses.
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La Pedrera was constructed to house apartments and offices however the owner had difficulty renting the apartments because prospective tenants thought they would have problems furnishing the rooms as they were irregularly shaped. La Pedrera is now a museum and is open to the public for viewing and tours.
This masterpiece, somewhat similar to Casa Batlló, breaks with traditional architecture by using not a single straight line. The building does not use load-bearing walls, but rest on pillars and arches. Together with the use of steel this allowed the architect to create completely irregular floor plans. Even the height of the pillars and ceilings differ from one to another. In order to allow light in all the rooms, the apartments are arranged around two central courtyards, one circular and the other oval shaped.
On the outside, the undulating balconies look like a series of waves. The iron-wrought balconies were designed by Josep Maria Jujol, who improvised on the spot. Some people see the facade as a cliff-like rock with caves. The building has been renamed ‘La Pedrera’ rather than ‘Casa Milà’ as during construction it resembled a quarry. The interior of the top floor apartment gives an impression of how it must have looked at the beginning of the 20th century. Similar to the outside, the interior has no straight lines. The striking rooms have a lot of character, with a mixture of expressionist and Art Nouveau styles.
The top floor, attic and the extraordinary roof are open to visitors. The most intriguing part of the building would be the roof, with its giant bizarre colourful chimneys. Many of them look like warriors in a science fiction movie, others look more frivolous. The roof also features a bench similar to the one in Parc Güell. From the top of La Pedrera, you have a breath-taking view over the city. One floor below the roof, where you can appreciate Gaudí’s taste for parabolic arches, is a modest museum dedicated to his work. Gaudí wanted to put a tall statue of the Virgin up here too: when the Mila family rejected his request, fearing it might make the building a target for anarchists, Gaudí resigned from the project in disgust.
The next floor down is the apartment El Pis de la Pedrera. It is mesmerizing to wander around this elegantly furnished home, done up in the style an affluent family might have enjoyed in the early 20th century. The sensuous curves and unexpected touches in everything from light fittings to bedsteads, from door handles to balconies, might seem admirable to us today, but not everyone thought so at the time.
For an extra special experience, you can also visit La Pedrera exclusively during a night tour. During the calm hours after dark, this intimate tour, limited to 30 people, will unveil to you the building’s secrets not seen on daytime visits. Wherever your accommodation in Barcelona, this monumental building is easily accessed through a single subway or bus ride!
Address: Provença, 261 – 265. 08008, Barcelona, Spain
Transport: By Bus: 7,16,17, 22, 24 and 28 | By Metro: lines 3 and 5, Diagonal | By FGC: Provença | By RENFE: Passeig de Gràcia.
Prices: Adult: €16.50 | Student: €14.85 | Disabled: €14.85 | Children (six and under): free | Children (seven to twelve): €8.25.
Schedules: 4 November to 28 February – Monday to Sunday: from 9am to 6.30pm (last admission: 6pm) | 1 March to 3 November – Monday to Sunday: from 9am to 8pm (last admission: 7.30pm).