We ventured out today to check out another one of Gaudi's remarkable creations here in Barcelona, Casa Batllo.
On the Casa Batllo website you can purchase tickets, which include an audio guide (priced the same as if you you buy at the booth outside the house), and there are also options to buy the premium video guide and a fast pass (to skip the lines).
Travel Tip: We did not pay for a fast pass and were able to buy our tickets and get inside the house in less than 15 mins. The line moves quickly, but we are here in September, which is the end of the tourist season, so that may have played a factor.
Casa Batllo's Design
Casa Batllo was built in 1904 by the genius architect Antoni Gaudi in the heart of Barcelona on Passeig de Gràcia. If you are wondering by now who this Antoni Gaudi guy is, the story of his life (and untimely death) are worth a read. He really had an amazing imagination. When you walk into the house, you feel like you have walked into a dream. There are many curved elements, and the house itself is supposed to portray an under the sea feel visible by the choices of colors and shapes.
It is hard to explain the design in words, and it is hard to capture it all in pictures, but as you walk through the house you can relate more and more to the under water theme. A large well with skylights in the center of the house is an important light source for the house. Interestingly, the colors on the walls of the well (from bottom to top) go from white, to gray, to light blue, to cobalt blue, just as it does in the ocean. Additionally, the sizes of the windows are larger at the bottom and smaller at the top.
On the very top floor, you can access the roof, where you can see chimneys grouped together for better aesthetics, and the large scale design which is meant to portray the back of a large animal, possibly a dragon.
There are many more unique features, such as a room on the roof where a reflected fountain gives the impression of water coming down all the walls. There is another room with a model of the house, and a brief light show which projects onto it and is accompanied by music. The light show portrays some of the interesting elements of the exterior of the house, such as the balconies which look like masks, and a dragon-like creature which snakes around the house. Our kids especially enjoyed the show, and insisted on watching it three times.
The audio guide is definitely helpful, as it explains all the rooms as you walk through them. Both of our kids also liked listening... how much they understood we are not sure of, but it did entertain them. In hindsight, we should have requested additional headsets for the kids, as they wanted to listen the whole time, making it difficult for us to understand what we were supposed to be seeing.
Overall, we liked the visit and would recommend it to those visiting Barcelona, though we thought that the price for the tickets (21.50 Euro per adult) was a bit too high. Thankfully, both our kids were free.
Travel Tip: The house is not very large (it is a house, not a mansion after all), so it does get crowded, especially around the stairs. Make sure you allow yourself time to get through the crowds and see everything.
On our walk back home, to keep the spirit of imagination alive, we walked into an Imaginarium store. What a cute place. Not sure if we have one of these stores in the US or not, but if we don't, we should :)
There are two entrances to the store, one for little ones and one for the grown ups. The 3-story store is filled with all sorts of neat toys and most are out for kids to play with. There is an outdoor area with a cute wooden house that they encouraged kids to go and play in (with parental supervision). There is even a hair salon for kids right in the store, though it looked closed during our visit.
Our kids had a blast, and we ended up spending over 30 minutes in the store :)
We grabbed a few things for dinner from a nearby grocery store on our walk back home. Our proximity to many groceries and fruit shops allow us to just buy things when we need them, as opposed to having to thinking ahead and shopping for the whole week. Certainly a nice perk of city living :)