Want to visit an architectural gem without the crowds? The Art Nouveau Casa Lleó i Morera, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, opened its doors to the public last year and I definitely recommend every Art lover to give it a whirl.
A visit to the wonderful interior of Casa Lleó i Morera
It is located a few doors down from Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, on the famous Block of Discord. It was commissioned by the wealthy, separated, Francisca Morera Oritz who spared no expense in its refurbishment. Unfortunately for the old dame, she died before ever living there and it was her son, Albert Lleó i Morera, who got to enjoy the luxurious lodgings.
When entering at ground level, don’t over look the wooden carriage lift. Being one of the first models, it broke down regularly and took a whole 5 minutes to get to the upper floors. No wonder residents resorted to using the stairs instead!
As a visitor they will show you a really informative slide show about the history of the house and Eixample. Then you will get the grand tour. Hold onto your hats as it is fab. You will immediately notice mulberry flowers and lions everywhere. The owner, Albert, was not shy about leaving visitors in any doubt which family commissioned this house: Lleó i Morera (lion and mulberry).
Make sure you wear your best glam rags on the visit as you will be posing to society. The first floor was considered the best floor of the house during this era. Big bay windows offered a great opportunity for the bourgeoisie to pose and be recognised by passers-by. Not only can you be gawked at through the glass but you will also get great views of the bustling Passeig de Gràcia.
Tragedy struck the family when Albert’s young first born child died. A beautiful memorial to him is carved out of stone throughout the hallway. It is a depiction of an old Catalan lullaby about a distressed nurse maid who prays for her child prince to be healed. The Catalan artist Eusebi Arnau does an impressive job of making this tale come to life!
You will almost hear the birds squaking and the wind gently rustling through the grass when you view the amazing stained glass window towards the back of the apartment. This coupled with mosaics depicting idle countryside picnics gives the feeling of nature slowly creeping inside the flat. In fact, that was the point: Art Nouveau was rebelling against grim industrial city landscapes.
The only disappointing thing about the interior is that there is not one stick of furniture left. By the 1920s people had lost their taste for this over ornate art; less fuss and balance became the vogue. The house in keeping with the fashions was remodelled and its dated furniture sold. Luckily for us, the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC) bought some pieces and you can now view it at your own leisure on the upper floors.
If planning to visit Casa Lleó i Morera, book your space in advance on the official website as they limit the group size to 20. Expect an intimate tour with knowledgeable guides who are discovering more about the house everyday.
Ann Marie Brannigan
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