You can't understand Catalan culture without the imagination, exuberance, symbolism, playfulness, colours and shapes of Modernism. You only have to take a walk through Barcelona to see that this artistic movement from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is everywhere. As an easy introduction to the Modernist world, we recommend a visit to the Gaudí Exhibition Centre, a museum that houses a unique collection of pieces, objects and documents belonging to this great universal architect. What's more, in the Eixample district you will find the largest concentration of Modernist buildings, such as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló.
You can also find examples of this architectural style in many other locations throughout Barcelona, such as Casa Amatller, where you can experience the Catalan bourgeoisie of the early twentieth century, as well as the Sagrada Familia, the Palau de la Música Catalana, Park Güell or the Hospital de Sant Pau all cultural symbols that transcend architecture to become universal works of art.
Gaudí, the master of Modernism
Modernism aimed to achieve modernity, on the one hand, and cultural regeneration, on the other. Architecture was the cornerstone of the movement, with the work of the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudí as an icon, along with the work of many of his contemporaries such as Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Josep MariaJujol and Isidre Gili Moncunill, who created an enormous legacy of Modernist buildings that adorn many Catalan municipalities.
Gaudí's creations reached far and wide, from Santa Coloma de Cervelló, with the Güell Crypt, to Pobla de Lillet, with the Artigas Gardens. The memory of this unique architect is preserved in Reus, the city where he was born, and one of the cities most marked by Modernism. Nearly 80 listed buildings make up Reus' spectacular showcase of Modernist architecture.
The Modernist influence extended to rural areas under the guise of cooperative warehouses and factories and industrial estates dotted throughout Catalonia. Several routes show you how this artistic wave spread throughout Catalonia, extending beyond the borders of the capital.
The Modernist trend was not limited to advancing architecture, the cornerstone of the movement, but also permeated sculpture, painting, graphic arts, literature, theatre and the recovery of ancient artisan trades, which the great architects knew how to use so well.
Each section of any of the Modernist routes will bring you closer to understanding the character of Catalonia and its taste for refinement and aesthetic exquisiteness.