You probably thought that after seeing the Casa Battlo, La Pedrera, the Sagrada Familia and the Guell park, that you had seen all of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona, did you? Well, wait until you see, and we introduce you to the Casa Calvet, right in the middle of the Eixample area.
In front of it, you will not find the queues that you see in the previous buildings. However, it is well worth seeing. Not only because it would be interesting just to see how Gaudí would even fold a napkin, but also because it is the first house that the master of modernism designed in the city’s Ensanche. Therefore the older sister of the very spoiled Battlo and Mila houses.
Back in 1898, Don Antoni was already a respected and admired architect, and it seemed that he didn’t like the commission of the widow and children of Pere Martir Calvet much because the surroundings did not give him a lot of room to play with his vast imagination. In other words, it wasn’t going to be as much fun as designing the Capricho in Comillas or the Episcopal Palace in Astorga.
However, the man got to work and created a splendid tribute to the Catalan Baroque, which was almost a provocation at a time when Barcelona’s modernism was at its highest and believed to be the best of the best.
But of course, with Gaudí things could not remain in historicism or in a nostalgic look to the past. In addition to fleurons, fluted columns and curved gables finishing the façade, in this house, he introduced original elements, lots of symbols and small pranks that also maintain specific meanings, such as the bug that is crushed by the wrought iron door knock and that, apparently, represents a sin-broken by the cross.
Also, to make the customers happy, he placed Sant Pere Martir (to pay tribute to the late patriarch) crowning the façade, accompanied by Sant Genes d’Arle and Sant Genis de Rome. On the main door, a well-seen letter “C” reminds everyone who owns the building.
The author’s ability to give lightness to such a heavy style, and to achieve such an elegant and harmonious result is incredible. So much, that he was awarded from the City Council in 1899 with the prize for the best house built that year when the architect didn’t even ask for it, and the magazines of the time paid compliments to his expertise and excellent taste. It was also said that the house was very suitable for the middle class. Some middle class!
As you will find out, all you can see of the Casa Calvet is the exterior and also the ground floor if you decide to have something in the restaurant that occupies it today. In other times, that’s where the offices of the businessmen who were in charge of the building worked, the basement was the storeroom, and the upper floors were the living areas.
Surely we wouldn’t have minded living in a place like this, but look, it’s a good thing to be able to stop, look at it and admire it. Don’t miss it! It happens to many people; they pass by the house without realising they’re missing a Gaudí house. And that is unforgivable!