As you may have gathered in my post about La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí, the (now-famous) Catalan architect, is kind of a big deal, and someone you should know about when visiting Barcelona.
La Pedrera, essentially an early 1900s apartment complex, is another Gaudí site. It was commissioned by a rich married couple, and originally called Casa Milà (named after Mr. Moneybags himself, Pere Milà i Camps). The entire first floor was a swanky house for Milà and his wife, and the rest of the building was separated into 20 or so units to rent out to other influential people.
However, Gaudí was a trail blazer in his time, with a very unique style. So this building was suuuper controversial when it was built. (By that, I mean that pretty much everyone thought it was #fugly.) They nicknamed it “La Pedrera” meaning “the stone quarry” and made fun of it in their newspapers and magazines and daily gossip (because internet memes were not yet a thing).
Long story short: time has passed, and we now appreciate this building instead of throwing serious shade at it. The name La Pedrera has become cute moniker instead of an insult. Plus, it has a fun front gate that I like. It reminds me of butterfly wings.
And you can stand in the middle of the courtyard, looking up at all of the apartments and wishing that you were cool enough to live somewhere this awesome.
Except for one little thing. Gaudí wanted everyone who lived in the building to socialize, so there were only elevator stops every two floors. This forced people to see each other on the stairs and partake in what I can only imagine was horribly awkward small talk on a regular basis. And let me just say that small talk is NOT one of my strengths.
So if you’re like me, you might stand in the courtyard envisioning this (slightly different) scenario: You cautiously peek out the window looking for neighbors, in hopes that you can sprint to the elevator and make it there without any chit chat. You grab your coat and hurriedly lock the door, but as soon as your foot hits the stair- “PUTA MADRE! Errr, hola Señora Garcia. Yes, I’m doing well. Yes, all of my family members are also doing well. Yes, I really like your cat’s new bow tie. We really SHOULD have coffee sometime, that sounds lovely and not terrible at all. Okay. Well… bye then!” Edging down the stairs and toward the elevator slowly all the while.
Eventually, once you stop imagining weird conversations with nonexistent neighbor ladies, you finally make it to the roof! (There are other exhibits too, but this is the real treasure of La Pedrera.)
There are beautiful skylights, staircase exits, water tanks, and chimneys, all covered with limestone, marble, or glass. While each of these things has a specific architectural function, they are also highly decorative.
And as if that’s not enough, there’s even a sweet view of La Sagrada Familia in the distance.
And pretty soon, you feel like you’re walking through a fairy tale. Except for one little thing. Because then, you start fumbling for the right language and polite phrases to ask fellow tourists (in Spanish? Catalan?) to take a picture of you and your husband in front of these neat looking chimney things, please and thanks.
“Yes, that’s nice. Um, except could you not stand in that spot WAY down there, looking up at us?? Because now we look really weird and the angle of my neck looks slightly broken. Come with us a little further, right over here. Yes, that’s right. You stand there, we’ll stand here. Just go ahead and push that button now.”
“Okay, better! We’ll take it. Yes, thank you! That’ll definitely do.
Oh. Well, yes… I suppose it does look like rain, doesn’t it? Mmhm, we’re from the United States. Where are you from? Ah yes, I’ve heard of that place. Sounds lovely. And you have a cat? That’s nice. Okay. Well… bye then!”
Edging toward the door and on to the next exhibit all the while.