Círculo Ecuestre

This house is today the headquarters of Círculo Ecuestre. In 1911 it won the Barcelona City Council award for the best building of the year.

Formerly Casa Pérez Samanillo, this Modernist urban palace with neo-Gothic details was designed by Catalan architect Joan Josep Hervàs i Arizmendi who included some unique elements such as the large, oval window of the former dining room over Avinguda Diagonal, which gave the house the nickname of La Peixera or the fishbowl.

The building features an ashlar masonry level where the windows of the semi-basement open. On top of the base, at the main level, the window openings are combined with fluted Corinthian columns and a singular lintel curve decorated with a molding curtain. Then the first floor galleries with highway structures enclose with highs with a balcony and a stone railing. The third floor opens up on the street to each of the three facades with a gallery run with half-point arches that lean over columns. The building ends with a cornice that in the chamfer zone bearing in its centre the emblem of the Equestrian Circle dated 1856.

Current access is made through a door located on Balmes street. While the basement level is used for the kitchens, the warehouse, a restaurant and a lounge, the ground floor is the lobby and reception of the club from which, through a staircase framed by individual Corinthian marble columns, you can access the rooms on the first floor.

Although one side of the building was destroyed in the 1930s, Casa Pérez Samanillo still conserves many of its original features from the beginning of the 20th century: the exterior marble staircase, the Venetian mirrors, the Murano glass chandeliers, the fireplace and the wall and ceiling decorations are just some examples (2). Nowadays, it is the venue for family reunions, business meetings and even golf tournaments. The club makes a variety of rooms available to its more than 1,500 members, and offers services that include bedrooms, a gym, a swimming pool, a solarium and a restaurant with a terrace.

Círculo Ecuestre was founded in the year 1856 by a group of middle-class Catalans united by a common interest – horse riding. The Círculo Equestre is a traditional meeting place for politicians and leading figures from the financial and other sectors. The high membership fees and the club’s conditions for admittance maintain its exclusive character. Women were not allowed entry until 1982. In 1991, that the Círculo Ecuestre was given a boost, the clubhouse being extended to cover an area of 6,000 m2 with a new building for residential use. The club currently has 1565 members of which 400 are under the age of 40. The building can only be visited on the open days organised by the Círculo Ecuestre, or if you know a Club member that will accompany you inside.

Joan Josep Hervàs i Arizmendi (1851 – 1912) was a Catalan architect who had worked as the municipal architect of the Philippine capital (1892 – 1898). He was commissioned to build the today Círculo Ecuestre house by Luis Pérez Samanillo, a Manila-born entrepreneur.


The Barcelona City Council Award for the Artistic Building of the Year was organised yearly between 1899 and 1930, and the winner building would receive this mark in the shape of this bronze sculptural decoration. There is a list of all the buildings that received this prize on Wikipedia, in Spanish.

The name La Peixera comes from an article appeared in the weekly Destino in 1947, signed by journalist Ignaci Agustí. Destino was one of the most important publications of the mid-20th century. It had been founded during the civil war by exiled Catalans in what is known as the “national zone” and, in time, ended up becoming the great Catalan reference. Source: https://vestigiosdebcn.com/la-pecera-en-la-ciudad-del-circulo-ecuestre/

Interior images and more info on the Club on their website http://www.circuloecuestre.es/circulo/galeria

10 Modernist Buildings You Should Know

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