Barcelona experienced a cultural Golden Age around the turn of the 20th century. A generation of talented architects and craftsmen rose to the challenge of constructing the new Eixample district. They received enough economic support and artistic freedom to manifest their creative vision through the stonework, tiles and decoration of countless new buildings, and played it well.
The legacy of Modernism’s star architect, Antoni Gaudí, mastermind of the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milá and five more UNESCO-recognised constructions is just a splash in the pool of a much larger movement which left countless architectural masterpieces in the city of Barcelona.
Another important name in Catalan Modernism is Lluis Domènech i Muntaner. His greatest works in Barcelona are the Palau de la Música Catalana and the restructuring of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. He was also responsible for the Modernist renovation of the Casa Lleó i Morera, at Passeig de Gràcia 35.
History and authentic style at Casa Lleó Morera
In 1902 this house was called the Casa Rocamora and was owned by Francesca Morera i Ortiz. Her family had made their wealth as overseas traders in the Americas. Domènech i Muntaner rebuilt the façade and added structural improvements such as stone balconies and three extra galleries. With the assistance of nearly 40 of the most talented craftspeople of the time, the interior was also redesigned with stained-glass windows, mosaics, ceramics, sculpture, wood, and marble. A recurring detail which you might notice is the mulberry fruit, a symbolic translation of the name “Morera.”
Francesca Morera i Ortiz passed away before the works were completed and the house was inherited by her son Albert Lleó i Morera. He was an esteemed member of the Catalan bourgeoisie, who held a Ph.D. in Medicine and worked as laboratory director at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The building was sold in 1943 to the insurance company Sociedad Mercantil Bilbao, and was acquired in 2006 by Group Núñez i Navarro.
Welcome to the Eixample’s “block of discord”
Casa Lleó I Morera is one of three prestigious Modernist buildings on this curiously named stretch of Passeig de Gràcia. The other are Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller, which each have their own style. The buildings clash and vie for the title of the “most beautiful.” This echoes the Greek legend of Eris, the goddess of discord, who offered a golden apple of discord, la manzana de la discòrdia, to the most beautiful goddess present at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. The resulting argument is said to have sparked the Trojan War. It is also a play on the Spanish word manzana, meaning both an apple and a street block.
Visiting the Casa Lleó i Morera
Since opening to the public last year, thousands of visitors have already enjoyed this fascinating insight into top Modernist craftsmanship and design. Tours are available and recommended, with experienced guides that offer insights such as the subtleties of the design and the historical context of its construction.
A regular guided tour lasts 70 minutes (15€), or you can take a 30 minute express tour (12€).
Tickets are only available online, or from the Palau de la Virreina (La Rambla, 99).
Address: Passeig de Gràcia 35
Open: Mon-Sat 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-19:00
More info & bookings: www.casalleomorera.com