Casa Amatller is special place for architecture, history, and chocolate. Once the residence of the Amatller family, the house is today partly a museum, partly a cafe, and partly an office building.
At a very young age, Antoni Amatller, chocolatier and grandson of the founder of Chocolate Amatller, crossed half of Europe, to discover new industrial technologies. In 1878, when he was just 28, he built a modern factory, near Barcelona: a factory with a revolutionary system of production that allowed the company to make chocolate quickly and on a large scale, without losing any of its quality. From time to time, he traveled to Cuba to personally supervise the cocoa crops that he imported to make his chocolate.
The original building was constructed by Antoni Robert in 1875, and in 1898 the Amatller family commissioned the Catalan architect and politician Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867-1956) to refurbish the building.
The current building dates from his “rose” or modernista period, which includes buildings such as the Casa Macaya and the Casa de les Punxes, the House of Spikes. The facade combines a neo-Gothic style with a ridged top inspired by houses in the Flanders, and is part of the block known as the mansana de la discòrdia of Barcelona.
Today, the building’s vestibule, where there are two staircases, as was the custom at the time – one to the main floor and the other to the homes of the other residents, can be visited, as well as the Amatller store and Information Office on Modernism.
Amatller created advertising posters for many decades, employing artists like Alphonse Mucha, Rafael de Penagos and Josep Triadó to illustrate them.
In contrast to today, advertisers in the 19th century has only a small range of options to reach out to the general public. Posters and the written press were the main methods that brands used to get their messages across. As well as advertising the chocolate, the resulting images also helped to popularize art, to reflect the society of the time and even to influence popular thinking.
Of the many wonders one can find inside the Amatller shop, here are two of my favorite sweet treats.
Flors de Cava are truffles with soft interior, covered in chocolate: a fresh and light combination, bringing together the woody taste of Marc de Cava with the creamy cocoa. Marc de Cava is the result of the distillation and further aging of certain elements of the grape, used to make cava.
The Origins Bars are produced using cacao from a single origin, Ecuador or Ghana, with 75% or 85% cocoa. There is also a milk chocolate bar with Ghana cocoa and a touch of Bourbon vanilla.
On the ground floor of Amatller House there’s a nice cafe with a back terrace, and I strongly recommend you try here the house specialty, the hot chocolate.