Gaudi deserves all the visibility he gets but Barcelona is not a one trick pony. Catalans try to express their uniqueness especially in the arts. and an architect named Lluis Domenech i Montaner created the perfect showcase for their music in the Palau de la Musica Catalana.
Like Gaudi, Montaner did it all: architecture, engineering, design, interior design, artistic design and did it all on budget through public subscription in 1905. The organ alone deserves an essay with its 5000 pipes delivering the Fugue in D as an assault on eternity. When you join a tour of the Palau, the guide plays some music just to tease you how good the acoustic of the place is.
The building will tell its own story in the pictures inside but when you hear the Catalans saying they are a special people remember this building.
Both the inside and the outside are magnificent. It makes Rococo look bland and Thompson and Gehry look preprogrammed. Every centimetre fits into a great floral bouquet dominated by the roses of St. George yet featuring subtleties in acoustic engineering that are amazing for the late 19th century.
Built between 1905 and 1908, the Palau is the best example of Catalan Art Nouveau architecture. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Palau today hosts 300 concerts a year and some of the great artists and orchestras of our time have played there. Because it’s privately owned, it has infinite flexibility in its programming and in the message it sends out so when you visit Barcelona, of course, you must see the great Gaudi treasures but if you miss the Palau, you will not understand the heart and soul of Catalonia.
Who is Lluis Domenech i Montaner?
A Catalan architect who was highly influential in Art Nouveau, Montaner was also a politician. He played a very influential role in Catalan's Nationalist Movement. Registered as an architect in 1873, he also was the director of the Escola d'Arquitectura, Barcelona's school of architecture.
Montaner is a genius in Art Nouveau architecture and to see this you must visit his other work, the Hospital de Saint Pau now called the Saint Pau Art Nouveau Site. Some people think this is even much more beautiful. Here's a peek at this beautiful site.