Lonely Planet Writer

Get a sneak peek of Gaudi's Casa Vicens before it opens next week

Casa Vicens, the first house designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, will open to the public in Barcelona on 16 November.

The exterior of Casa Vicens. Image by Pol Viladoms
The exterior of Casa Vicens. Image by Pol Viladoms

The UNESCO World Heritage Site has undergone three years of extensive renovations in preparation for the re-opening as a museum instead of a private residence. The house is Gaudi’s first Barcelona building (of many) and was originally conceived as a summer house for a local businessman.

The project will be of great interest to fans of the architect’s work as it is an important step in his artistic journey. While the house was built in traditional Catalan style, it appears Gaudi was given a huge amount of creative freedom with the result being something entirely new and unexpected. Casa Vicens is also considered one of the first art nouveau buildings.

Architecture fans will delight in the detail in Casa Vicens. Image by Pol Viladoms
Architecture fans will delight in the detail in Casa Vicens. Image by Pol Viladoms

While architecture fans have been able to admire the eye-catching exterior for some time, finally they’ll be able to explore the distinctive interior too. The restoration project began in April 2015 and the architects place a particular emphasis on respecting Gaudi’s original artistic vision and aesthetic and enlisted the help of expert restorers in the work.

The task was not so straightforward as the property itself has been changed significantly over the last 100 years. Many of Gaudi’s documents were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War so apart from a few photographs and sketches, the restorers had to rely on the house itself to provide clues as to the original colours and locations of many features. Some original features, like a large waterfall will not be able to be reproduced.

An example of an interior room. Image by Pol Viladoms
An example of an interior room. Image by Pol Viladoms

While not as imposing as the Sagrada Familia, the museum will no doubt be a welcome addition to culture vultures who still have another nine years to wait for completion of the famous cathedral. The new museum will be able to accommodate 150,000 visitors a year and the manager of Casa Vicens told El Periódico d’Andorra he believed the museum will be most attractive to people already familiar with the city and Gaudi’s work.

The plan, he said was to “convince people that Casa Vicens is not a place to rush in and out of and that we offer a unique atmosphere that sets us apart from other Gaudí sites. We also believe that the best way to enjoy this house is to spend the time it takes to discover the thousands of marvellous details that are here to discover.”

The visitors will be encouraged to take their time exploring the house. Image by Pol Viladoms
The visitors will be encouraged to take their time exploring the house. Image by Pol Viladoms

The museum’s ticketing system will require people to book visits at specific hours to avoid overcrowding and you can enjoy the house at your own pace or by guided tour and tickets are available to purchase online now. In the future, there may even be scope for special events, such as cocktail hours on the house’s rooftop terrace and bar and there will also be a full schedule of cultural activities.

This article was originally published April 2017 and was updated November 2017.