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Casa Milà (Barcelona, Spain)

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Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for 'The Quarry'), is a building designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1905–1907. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia ('passeig' is Catalan for promenade or avenue) in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was built for Roger Segimon de Milà. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".

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      24.11.2010 22:05
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      a Stunning Gaudi design

      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 it is definately not a site ot be missed.

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        28.04.2007 22:12
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        Great Gaudi designed house.

        When we went to Barcelona at Easter I only had a couple of must see sights on my itinerary and one of them was Casa Mila or La Pedrera as it is otherwise known, this Gaudi designed building is now a World Heritage site and is most famous for the quite spectacular roof that it boasts however there is more to it than just that although to be honest the roof alone justifies the entry fee in my opinion and if you are visiting Barcelona I would definitely recommend it as a suitable place to visit for all the family as my children really enjoyed it especially as my son had studied Gaudi in art classes earlier in the year.

        A Brief History

        The building was commissioned by the industrialist Pere Mila and the intention was that the main floor would be the family residence with the remainder of the building leased out. Certainly the building proved to be an innovative design and it earned the name “La Pedrera” which means stone quarry because the façade of the building appears to be carved out of rock.

        The structure of the building rests on pillars instead of load bearing walls which allowed Gaudi to include large apertures in the façade owing to the fact that each floor of what in effect were two apartment buildings independent of each other.

        The building did fall into a certain state of repair however in 1986 the Caixa Catalunya purchased the property and began to restore it, the work took ten years and it is now open to tourists.

        Getting There and Admission

        Casa Mila is located on the corner of Passeig de Gracia and Provenca in the Eixample district of Barcelona. The nearest metro station is Diagonal on metro line 3 and the house is right opposite one of the metro exits. Being a main through fare there are also a number of bus routes that can be used however we found the metro to be the fastest and easiest to work out on our trip.

        Entry cost was 7 euro each which was not bad and the audio guide was a further 3 euro however we did not bother with this as we had already read up a fair bit of the history and information on the property.

        Opening hours are 10.00 to 20.00 seven days a week and with the exception of Christmas and New Year it is open all year round with the exception of one week in January so check ahead if you are visiting at the start of the year.

        What is there to see?

        One of the top tips is to get there early when it opens as there will be queues outside, also it is best to try and pick a dry day. We did neither so waited for about twenty minutes in the queue outside waiting to get in, in what was a fine rain. When we entered we were advised to go straight to the roof as if it gets too wet then they close it to visitors and there is no refund. I was no too impressed that I was only told this after we entered rather than at the ticket desk however our visit was not hindered which was a good thing.

        The first thing to check out on arrival is the art nouveau façade of the building, there are no straight lines instead the building ripples, dips, bumps and curves with great variety and depth. It really is an impressive sight which is accentuated by the more traditional structures either side of it. The dark rock frontage is topped off by the lighter coloured roof terrace and all of the windows are fronted by ornate metal work which give the impression of branches or mingled seaweed. In fact the oceans inhabitants and various other naturally occurring items or animal life provided some of the inspiration for Gaudi and some of these are exhibited in one of the exhibits.

        As you queue (depending on the length of the queue) you may also pass by an impressive ornate door which was one of the main entrances and now is the exit to the building, it is a shame that there is a roped barrier and a rather grim faced Senorita posted at the front of the door who ends up in the tourist pictures of the door.

        Everywhere you look there is something interesting to take in and once through the front entrance on your way to the lifts you can take a quick diversion to enter one of the interlinking patios and look up to see the inner circle around which the apartments are arranged to the sky above, in our case this meant a face full of rain however the detail on the inside of the building is just as detailed as that on the outside.

        Our first destination was the roof terrace, reached by a lift and then a few stairs which might present the odd difficulty for those not good on their feet it is mind blowing sight. My first thought was to try and imagine what goes on in the mind of someone who would be able to visualise such a design and then bring it to life.

        Again there is a lack of straight lines with curved arches through which you are able to walk and solid white stone sculptures dotted around the outside of the inner courtyard. There is a range of textures and colours with some of the pieces covered in broken pieces of ceramic whilst others are painted or left rough. The level undulates and there are more steps to climb in places some of which are quite high steps to navigate. There are clusters of chimney pots that resemble gapping mouths and in a couple of cases to my mind they looked like armoured head gear with slits for eyes. This is a great area to explore and you can go in either direction with no time limit on your visit. It is also worth taking the time to look out over the city and you can get a decent picture of the spires of La Familia Sagreda as well as the wide avenues of the Eixample area.

        On the floor below the roof terrace which is effectively the attic there is a permanent exhibit which provides an insight into both the life of Gaudi and the building itself. There are two large models of the building one showing the completed structure and the other showing the skeleton and inside of the building; these are quite large and very detailed. There is a mix of displays from drawings, objects and video screens showing how the building was built and some of the inspirations that Gaudi used. On our visit this area was very crowded and you had to be patient while moving around, there were places to take a rest and it was very interesting.

        Descending a couple of flights of stairs you come to an apartment which has been recreated to give an insight into the lives of a bourgeois family in the early decades of the 20th Century. This was also quite interesting and very detailed. The furnishing as well set out especially the children’s play room which had some lovely old toys in it. There is a small gift shop on this floor and a much larger one on the ground floor which had some really nice designed furniture and ornament although they all were at tourist prices as well as a large collection of books and posters.

        In all we spent about three hours in the building and I though it represented excellent value for money. It is also located a short fifteen minute walk from Gaudi gothic unfinished cathedral La Famiglia Sagreda as well as being near to Park Gruell which hosts a number of his designs.

        If you only get time to visit one of the Gaudi designed properties then for me this is the one I would recommend, it is the most touristy but it is tastefully done, there was a fair bit of scaffolding on the roof at the time of our visit which was a bit disappointing but this was something common to a lot of the sites we visited in Barcelona.

        There are toilet facilities on the ground floor although when we visited they were closed for cleaning and there is a cloak room to deposit bags. Cameras were allowed on the roof and in the exhibits although you were not supposed to use flash photography inside however no one seemed to take any notice of this. Because of the number of steps and the crowds I would not rate this as something suitable for wheelchair bound visitors or those who are very unsteady on their feet.

        For more information and some great pictures check out http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Casa_Mila.html

        Thanks for reading and rating my review.

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          08.01.2007 15:19
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          Having visited the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, we wanted to visit one of Gaudí's houses too, the only problem was which one to choose. We eventually went for La Perdrera (aka Casa Milà), as we had passed this intriguing building several times and really wanted to see the unusual roof which we thought would offer great views of the city.

          The facade of the building is said to have no straight lines in it whatsoever, and its undulating, organic shape, is further enhanced by the wrought iron plant-like forms which adorn the balconies. The building owes its nickname la Perdrera to the quarry-like aspect of its frontage.

          On entering, the courtyard is also impressive, its shape drawing the eye up towards the little bit of sky at the top. The visit is in several parts, and equipped with our audio commentary, we first visited the 2 carefully restored apartments which took us back in time to when the building was new. The first is a bit like a museum, showing all the technological novelties of the time, telephone, cinema and so on. The second one was a reconstruction of an apartment in the modernista style, mixing designer and everyday objects. Remember to look at the interior patio from the apartment windows.

          Having seen the apartments, we were keen to get on the roof, not realising that there was a major part of the visit to experience before that, the 'Espai Gaudí'. The roof space, which was once used to dry laundry, is now an exhibition of Gaudí's life and work. I was most impressed with the space itself, with all its brick arches, and surprised at how beautiful it was, considering that it was not on show, but only seen by a few. This part of the visit made me glad we chose to visit this building, as there were displays on many of his other works which gave a really good overview of his style and techniques. There were pictures of buildings that are not normally visited which was interesting. I was fascinated by an upside down model of a building made of string with weights attached which demonstrated one of Gaudí's techniques for designing arches. If you looked in the mirror that was placed below the model, you could see what the building would look like. The coordinates were entered in a computer and it was found that modern techniques could not have designed it better.

          The roof terrace was great fun. The surface was not flat, but curvy, and functional objects like chimneys and ventilation shafts are given interesting shapes (owls, helmeted warriors and so on)and textures (broken pottery, marble, even broken champagne bottles).

          The gift shop can be entered from the street or from the Casa Milà, but you cannot return to the visit from there.

          At €6 plus €3 for the audio-guide, this was excellent value for money. Discounts are available for holders of a current 'bus turistic' ticket.

          Wheelchair accessibility is not very good, although there are lifts for getting on to the roof, the unevenness of the surface would make it very difficult to negotiate.

          I would recommend this visit if you don't have time to see too many of Gaudí's buildings as the exhibition allows an excellent overview of his techniques and style.

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          ""Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for 'The Quarry'), is a building designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1905–1907. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia ('passeig' is Catalan for promenade or avenue) in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was built for Roger Segimon de Milà. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".""