The Quadrat d’Or (Golden Square) is an area of the Eixample neighborhood that is famous for being full of modernist buildings designed by well-known architects. It is located between Carrer Aribau, Passeig Sant Joan, Plaza Catalunya and Avinguda Diagonal. The majority of the buildings are apartments which were built from 1860 onwards and commissioned by members of Barcelona´s wealthy class. The city´s bourgeoisie lived in this area and competed with each other for the most beautiful homes, which included decorated interiors and facades using diverse materials such as wood, ceramics, glass, and iron.
It is often remarked that walking around this neighborhood is almost like being in the modernist exhibit of a museum. The most famous buildings in this area, Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller, and Casa Lleó Morera, form a part of the “Manzana de Discordia” (both apple and block of discord in translation). However, there are quite a few others that are also worth a look, all of them designed by famous modernist architects such as Antoni Gaudí, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Salvador Valeri i Pupurull, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and Manuel Sayrach.
Casa Terrades (Avinguda Diagonal 416), also known as Casa de les Punxes (the Needle House), is considered one of the most spectacular modernist buildings in Barcelona. It is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles and it received the nickname because the most recognizable features are the tall conical towers topped with needles. The building is designed as if it were a medieval castle, with a turret on each of the four corners. Other interesting features are the panels surmounting the facade, made of decorated ceramics, which are patriotic symbols of Catalonia. The building was commissioned in 1905 by three sisters (the Terrades) and designed by Puig I Cadafalch. As this is a private property it is not open to the public.
Casa Macaya (108 Passeig Sant Joan) was built in 1901 and was designed by Puig i Cadafalch. It was a residential home and the facade is done in white stucco with esgrafiats (painted decorations) and decorated extensively with stone around the windows and balcony, which give it a modernist style. The building has since been acquired by La Caixa and is now used as a space for artistic exhibitions. It is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11:00am to 8:00pm and Sundays and public holidays from 11:00am to 3:00pm.
Editorial Montaner i Simón (Carrer Aragón 255) was originally a publishing house. It was constructed between 1880 and 1885, in the early stages of Catalan Modernism, by Domènech i Montaner and was his first major project in Barcelona. It was built using red brick with glazing and iron designs and at the top of the facade there are sculptures and names of literary figures. The distinctive metal roof ornament was originally intended to resolve the differences in height with the buildings on either side, but was also the base for the famous “Cloud and Chair” wire sculpture by Antoni Tàpies, who is one of Catalonia´s best known artists. The building is now the headquarters of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation and was declared a historical monument in 1997.
Casa Calvet (Carrer Casp 48) was designed by Antoni Gaudí and is considered the most conventional of his works. It was built for a textile manufacturer and it served as both a commercial property and a residence. It was built in 1899 and in the year 1900 the Barcelona City Council awarded it a prize for the best building of the year. The building has more symmetry and balance than some of his other works but the details are clearly modernist. For example, the columns at the entrance are in the form of stacked bobbins, which alludes to the textile business. There are also mushrooms above the window, supposedly in honor of the owner´s favorite hobby, which was mushroom picking, and three sculpted heads at the top, one of which is the owner´s father, and two of which are patron saints of Vilassar, the owner´s home town.
Casa Comalat (Avinguda Diagonal 442) was designed by Salvador Valeri I Pupurull and was built between 1909 and 1911. It´s most distinguishing features are the two distinct facades, one which faces Diagonal and one which faces Roselló, which make it seem almost as if they were two completely different buildings. The facade that overlooks Diagonal is made of stone with ironwork on the balconies, and is more symmetrical than the other. The Roselló side is less traditional, and decorated in colorful ceramics.
Casa Thomas (Carrer Mallorca 293) was designed by Domènech i Montaner and renovated by his son-in-law, Francesc Guárdia. It was commissioned by the printer Josep Thomas. The building has two storeys, one which was Thomas´ workshop (on the ground floor) and one which was the family´s home (on the top floor). The facade was designed in neo-Gothic style, with a blue toned floral pattern. During the renovation the three upper-storeys were added and the height of the turrets was raised. Inside the building there is a beautiful wrought-iron staircase.
Casa Sayrach (Avinguda Diagonal 423-425) was built in 1918 and was one of the last buildings in Barcelona to be built in a modernist style. It was designed by Manuel Sayrach, an architect and writer who had not yet completed his degree at that time, so the project was signed by someone else. It´s outstanding features include the rounded roof and turret. The stone facade, which is curved, is said to reveal the influence of Gaudí on Sayrach´s design.
Palau Baró de Quadras (Avinguda Diagonal 373) is the work of Puig i Cadafalch, who was commissioned by the Baron de Quadras to refurbish a residential block on Carrer Rosselló. From 1902 to 1903 the work was done, eventually transforming the building from its original state to a modernist masterpiece. There are two distinct facades, one which is heavily influenced by the styles of Northern European palaces and one which has more modernist elements. The inside of the palace has been the home of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Center, Casa Àsia, since 2003, and is also decorated in a modernist style. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10:00am to 8:00pm and Sundays and public holidays from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
Palau Montaner (Mallorca 278) was designed in 1889 and completed in 1893, and is one of the few remaining mansions in the Eixample. Domènech i Estapá began the project and later it was taken over by Domènech i Montaner after Domènech i Estapá had an argument with the owner which caused him to leave the project before it was completed. The facade at the top of the building is filled with ornamental motifs and features a mosaic at the top with the numbers 1893, in honor of the year of completion. Inside the building there is a marble floor decorated with mosaics, and there is a spectacular stained-glass lantern in the patio area. The building has been the headquarters of the Madrid Government’s Delegation since 1980.
The best way to visit the Quadrat D’Or is on foot, by marking the specific destinations on a map and then planning your route. Give yourself ample time in order to admire all the details that made these architects famous, and of course, don´t forget to bring your camera!