At first glance, this palace looks like a flamboyant Gothic work. And so it is, but only of inspiration, as this impressive urban palace, Palau Baró de Quadras, is a Modernist project built between 1904 and 1906 by architect Puig i Cadafalch.
Today the palace is a National Historical Monument of Artistic Interest and houses the main offices of Institut Ramon Llull. The main façade has one of the most impressive Gothic revival balconies seen in Modernista architecture. It was created by Modernist artisans Alfons Juyol and Eusebi Arnau who used carved stone for their design.
The façade is a mixture of styles with the highlighted Plateresque* long podium with eight windows which, above, has a flamboyant balcony with pinnacles and braces with four doors. The long, ornate balcony, with its busts of eminent medieval and Renaissance figures, floral motifs and heraldic shields, and the mansards on the upper floor, all evoque the medieval European style. The Northern European style of the mansards on the roof and the cantilever below are also of note.
Why is the facade design so rooted into the Gothic revival style, you may ask? Well that is mainly because its architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, used this style as one of his main sources of inspiration, as you can see on other notable houses of his, such as Amatller. And he is renowned for having mixed Gothic inspiration with Modernist floral designs and traditional Catalan decorative techniques still, in the case of this house, he opted to decorate in Modernist style only the interior and the rear facade, whilst keeping a 100% Gothic revival look for the main facade.
The Palau opens to the public every Wednesday between 11 and 13 hours with specialized tours in Catalan, Spanish and English, at the price of €10 (link to the official page of Institut Ramon Lllull here).
The Quadras family made their fortune in the textile industry. The Baron’s father, José Quadras i Prim was born in Vic in 1822, and became, through marriage, the successor of the spinned worsted factory located in Sabadell, Tomàs Comas i Miró society, that changed name into Quadras, Feliu i Companyia. It was one of the most important staple wool factories in Catalonia and experienced its maximum growth during WWI.
Manuel Quadras i Feliu was his eldest son. He became Baron in 1900, a title awarded by the Regent Queen Maria Cristina in memory of a former noble title of the family dating from 1378. Manuel commissioned Josep Puig i Cadafalch to rehabilitate the former Barony Castle and then, impressed by the architect’s work and vision, the remodeling of this urban palace as well.
Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867 – 1956) was a Catalan Modernista architect who designed many significant buildings in Barcelona. One of his early projects is Casa Martí (also known as “Els Quatre Gats” which became a place of ideas, projects and social gatherings for such well-known Catalans as Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas, and where Pablo Picasso had some of his first exhibitions). Another key project is Casa Terrades, also known as Casa de les Punxes, inspired from the style of North European medieval castles. He also collaborated with his contemporary Antoni Gaudí in the project of Cafe Torino, on Passeig de Gràcia (now disappeared). Puig i Cadafalch was, from 1942 to 1956, president of the academic institution of the Catalan language, Institut d’Estudis Catalans.
*Plateresque, meaning “in the manner of a silversmith” (plata being silver in Spanish), was an artistic movement, especially architectural, developed in Spain and its territories, which appeared between the late Gothic and early Renaissance in the late 15th century, and spread over the next two centuries. It is a modification of Gothic spatial concepts and an eclectic blend of Mudéjar, Flamboyant Gothic and Lombard decorative components, as well as Renaissance elements of Tuscan origin.
Sources: Palau Baró de Quadras, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Institut Ramon Llull, Plateresque style, Gothic revival