Exploring Modernisme on a Food Tour of Barcelona

November 16, 2020  |  By Peg Kern
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The chimneys of Gaudi's Perdrera building, visited during a food tour of BarcelonaOne thing you’re sure to encounter on one of our culinary tours to Barcelona, and in particular our Barcelona Foodie Adventure is the art movement known as “Modernisme” (sometimes called Catalan Art Nouveau).

What does that have to do with culinary vacations? Keep in mind that all the culinary tour packages designed by us at The International Kitchen have a foodie emphasis, but that they all include cultural and historical sites as well. Who would go to Spain on a foodie tour and not want to experience the history? Who would go to Barcelona on a cooking vacation and not visit the Gothic Cathedral or La Sagrada Familia?

Casa Battlò by Guadi in Barcelona, seen during a culinary vacation in SpainWhether you are passionate about art and architecture or just mildly interested, in Barcelona you will encounter, and be mesmerized by, Modernisme.

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Modernisme is wonderfully specific – it was tied to a precise place and time, namely the Catalan region of Spain at the turn of the 20th Century (roughly from 1888 to 1911). Modernisme was primarily a movement in architecture and the plastic arts (sculpture, carpentry, tile making, furniture, glass making, etc.), but it was also a literary movement. Its aim was to establish a new, revitalized and revalued Catalan culture.

View of Gaudi's Perdrera, visited on a culinary tour of BarcelonaOn one of our food tours of Barcelona the main Modernisme works you will experience are buildings and sculptures. We’ll get to Anton Gaudì in a moment, but the first example of Modernisme archiecture was a cafe designed by Lluis Domènech i Montaner in 1888 for the Universal Expedition taking place that year. It has been described as a melding of two Catalonian aesthetic influences: medieval and Arab. The Modernisme architects featured curved lines, richly decorative elements, assymetry, and the insistent use of motifs from the natural world (plants, bones, flowers, even crystals). Probably the most famed of Domènich i Montener’s works is the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, a gorgeous testament to the movement. It is open for tours daily, but is also a working concert hall with daily performances.

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Modernisme at Its Zenith: Antoni Gaudí

Gaudi's salamander at Park Guell, visited during a food tour of BarcelonaModernisme architecture reached its zenith with Antoni Gaudí, who took Modernisme to a personal level that became distinctly his own. His replication of nature (from shells to lizards and more) and his use of complex geometric shapes made his version of Modernisme unique. You can see his most known works simply walking through the streets on one of our food tours of Barcelona, including:

  • La Pedrera – also called by its official name – Casa Milà -La Pedrera features curved, undulating stone stories stacked to the roof, as well as his iconic “knight” chimneys. “Pedrera” means quarry.
  • Park Güell – a large garden complex that includes Modernisme buildings and sculptures, most notably the iconic mosaic salamander
  • Casa Battló – as part of the “Block of Discord” – a famous block featuring houses designed by several different (and competing) Modernisme architects – the Casa Battló is a beautiful multi-story home designed by Gaudí for a wealthy local family (read more about this area of Barcelona here)
  • Casa Calvet – Designed for a textile manufacturer, it was both a commercial property and a residence
  • Casa Vincens – One of Gaudí’s earlier buildings, also designed as a family residence, and recently restored and reopened as a museum
  • La Sagrada Familia – the famous, immense, and still unfinished basilica originally started in 1882 and taken over by Gaudí the following year. It is considered his greatest work, and is one of the most popular tourist sites in the world. (Read about visiting La Sagrada Familia.)

View of Gaudi's masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, in BarcelonaHave you been to Barcelona? What did you think of these amazing Modernisme buildings and statues? We think they are but one reason Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and one of our favorite destinations for a culinary tour of Spain.

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By Peg Kern

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