on November 23, 2010
Casa Mila or La Pedrera as it is also known is one of the architect Gaudi's most famous buildings and one of my personal favourite sites in Barcelona. Located on the elegant Passeig De Gracia where you will find botiques from some of the world's biggest designers, La Pedrera was commisioned by the wealthy industrialist Pere Mila in 1905 and completed in 1912. This amazing apartament building was allowed to fade and decay until it was bought by the Caixa Catalunya bank in the 1980's who then set about restoring it to it's former glory. The building is now a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the other building of Gaudi and the second most visited site in Barcelona after La Sagrada Familia also by Gaudi. Getting to Casa Mila couldn't be easier as Passeig de Gràcia is probably the best connected street in the city. The centre of the city Placa Catalunya is located at the bottom and there are several metro stops along the street but it is an easy and enjoyable stroll up the passeig. Once on the street it is impossible to miss Casa Mila thanks to it's distinctive art nouveau facade of undulating curves. It really is a amazing building and especially so at night when it is floodlit showing it off to dramatic effect. It was supposed to be like a fortress against the city outside and this is aparent in the severity of the design and although not as beautiful as it's neighbour Casa Batlloit is still stunning in the uniqness of it's design. The building now houses a museum dedicated to Gaudi and exhibits showing the timeline of the property and the inspiration for Gaudi's work. The restored apartements showing how they would have looked back when the building was built are interesting enough but rather more plain than I would have thought given the amazing building. What is interesting is seeing how they have been designed to have no square rooms but rather these curve mirroring the facade. Out the windows you can see the impressive metal work of the balconies which are supposed to look like waves.The apartaments were built facing a central courtyard and looking up or down this gives an amazing view of the interlinking patios right up to the sky and down below and is a great photo opportunities. Everywhere you look there is something interesting to look at and although I am a huge Gaudi fan I defy anyone not to be impressed. If you are really interested in the history of the bulding then get the audio tour as it is really informative and interesting and surprisingly not as boring as you might imagine. As interesting as the interiors are the real reason so many people visit Casa Mili is to go on the roof and get up close and personal with the amazing design. Again there isn't a straight line to be found and it is all undulating curves and swirls. There are some amazing sculptures all along the roof which are huge and impossing. The chimneys are all fully functioning but are supposed to represent knights and the details on them such as the ceramic mosaics are beautiful but again there is a severity in them that is missing in his other more fairytale work. It is not suitable for the disabled unfortunately because there are steps all over the roof and no wheelchair access. There is a bench which mirrors the famous one at Parc Guell and is a good place to sit and contemplate your surroundings and try and understand how anyone could conceive of the imagination that Gaudi had. I love Casa mila and it is a place where I return to everytime I visit Barcelona and each time I find something different and surprising that I didn't notice the previous time. It is open November-February: 09:00 - 18:30 and March-October: 09:00 - 20:00. If coming in summer you should try to get tickets for the rooftop concerts they hold here on a regular basis as it is an experience you will never forget. The last time I visited it cost 10 Euros for entry and be prepared to experience this amazing site with lot's of other people as it is always full and you will probably have to queue to be able to enter the building. Even if you have to queue an hour it is definately not a site not be missed.
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