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This is a tour that you create and drive at your own pace with a rental mini bus or coach with private driver. It’s particularly suited for lovers of modernistic architecture of which Barcelona’s buildings are one of the most complete examples. Depending on the physical fitness of your group members you can use the rented minibus just for your transfers to and from the Barcelona city centre and from there just walk and/or take a few taxis for those who are in less shape. After all the city of Barcelona is really good place for a walking tour as well.
Everyone knows the tours by bus around the works of the great architect Antoni Gaudí. His work is impressive with examples as the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell. But what you may not know is that Modernism, the artistic and architectural current that revolutionized the early 20th century society, was considered at the time an eccentricity that would disappear. The passage of time has shown that this idea was totally wrong, and on this tour by rental coach you can understand that there were other architects who made Barcelona the Modernist city ‘par excellence’ in the world.
Before undertaking this walk along the most famous 100 meters of sidewalk in Barcelona, your driver should allow you to ‘get started’ at a typical local bar, the Granja 1872. It’s situated in the heart of the city (c/Banys Nous, 4), where you can taste a typical chocolate and pastries of all kinds to start the morning with enough sugar in your blood. From there to the starting point of the tour there is no more than one quarter of an hour by minibus.
The first essential stop of this day is the work of a famous architect of Modernism, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, who had the misfortune of being contemporary of Gaudí. As you might understand Gaudi was the one who took all the fame. The Casa Amatller is located next to the Casa Batlló, and that rivalry between the buildings is the reason why that stretch of the Paseo de Gracia is known as the "apple of discord" (playing with the double meaning of “manzana” in Spanish, which is the fruit and also the name of the blocks of buildings in the urban design of Barcelona).
As you can see, the style of this construction, also designed to be the house of the rich Catalan chocolatier Antoni Amatller, is very different from the work of Gaudí, which is located right on the side. The funny fact is that all tourists and architecture lovers who come to this point of Paseo de Gracia argue about which of the two extravagant houses is more beautiful. Puig i Cadafalch wanted the house to resemble a Gothic palace, and he certainly got it. The materials and the ornamental work are of great value, so, although you can like more the neighbouring Casa Batlló, you cannot deny that this one is also very attractive.
No need to get on your minibus as your driver will not need to carry you to the next stop, since it is just a few steps ahead of Cadafalch’s building. The Casa Lleó i Morera, built in 1905, is curiously the only one that won a prize in a contest of artistic buildings, although as we know the fame went mainly to the work of Gaudí, located a few meters away.
Built in typical Art Nouveau style, the house is covered by allusions to the family name in the form of various materials such as mulberry leaves, and it is crowned by a temple that stands out from the rest. In addition, the interior is in real modernist style, with rich stained glass, mosaics and fine woods and marbles.
Although you are lovers of architecture, it is likely that you also enjoy gastronomy, and the Catalan kitchen has certainly a lot to offer. Ask your bus driver to take you to the Gothic quarter, a key neighbourhood of the city, where you will find the restaurant Els Quatre Gats. The place is symbolic since it is a building by Puig i Cadafalch and it was inaugurated in 1897, with the idea of emulating the Parisian cabaret Le Chat Noir. Since then, celebrities from the world of culture of all kinds have frequented it, but most importantly, in it you can taste some of the delights of Catalan and Spanish cuisine at very reasonable prices. Tell your driver to take a siesta break or invite him over to join your for lunch.
You can digest the meal without entering the bus and let the chauffeur take a nap. A stroll in the lovely and enchanting streets of the Gothic quarter will take you directly to the next iconic Modernist building in Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana.
Before embarking on the visit, do not forget to agree a fixed time for your driver to collect you at the pick-up point that he sees feasible.
The guided visit to the Palau de la Música will have certainly impressed you because of the beauty of the place, but it will also have left pretty tired. The best way to relieve you is without a doubt a moment's rest in the same bar of the Palau, where you can calm your hunger with delicious snacks in Basque style, immersed in the splendid architecture of the place. A highly recommended experience, no doubt.
This architectural tour of Barcelona and its “less famous” modernist architects can be seen as ‘completed’ right now. If you have no strength to move there are 2 options: one is to ask your minibus driver to take you to the hotel or the second one is to see if you get lucky and buy tickets for a musical performance at the Palau de la Música.
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