Its beautiful facade and fantastic interiors, coupled with the great restoration efforts by the family who owns the building and virtual reality audio guide, make a visit to Casa Batlló a must whether you are spending one day in Barcelona or four and whether you are traveling solo or with kids.
Casa Batlló is great for all ages and in all seasons, it is even open on Christmas Day and at night throughout the year, be it for summer concerts of winter serenades. You can’t visit Barcelona and miss Casa Batlló.
Why you should read this article
- As a local to the city, I want to not only tell you what is written elsewhere but also share anecdotes only another Catalan will know.
- Know what to expect during the visit. I have visited Casa Batlló in summer, winter, during the day and at night so I can compare and share tips to make the most of your visit.
- To know what the right ticket for you is. There are many ticket options and tours available so it can be difficult to pick.
What you will learn in this article
- The history of Casa Batlló, how it came about and why it is designed this way.
- A bit more about Gaudi, the architect, and about Modernisme, the artistic movement that defines Barcelona’s Eixample district and beyond.
- Detailed comparison of each of the Casa Batlló ticket options and passes available
- History of Casa Batlló
- About Gaudi and his design for Casa Batllo
- The facade of Casa Batllo
- Inside Casa Batlló, a look at its interiors
- Casa Batlló Salo Modernista – Modernist Hall
- How to visit Casa Batlló
History of Casa Batlló
This privately-owned, UNESCO-listed building on Passeig de Gracia is visited by almost 3 million people every year, making it one of the most popular places in the city and one of the most emblematic too.
Considered a Gaudi masterpiece, Casa Batlló has been recognized with several awards for its original design, its original restoration work and its ongoing conservation efforts. It is also consistently ranked as one of the best tourist attractions in Spain.
The architect’s signature elements can almost all be found in the building, making it a culmination piece in his portfolio. Gaudi also incorporated several modern elements for the time and made it a very functional building despite its fantastical look.
If you only had time to visit one monument in Barcelona, Casa Batlló would certainly be a top candidate.
Despite being known as one of Gaudi’s best works, Casa Batlló was not originally built by him but by one of his university professors, Emili Sala Cortes, in 1877 when Passeig de Gracia had just opened up and the city still had no electricity.
When Josep Batlló bought the house in 1903, Gaudi was tasked with demolishing it and rebuilding it from scratch and was given free creative reign to design it. However, the architect did not feel the house needed to be brought down and convinced industrialist Mr. Batlló to just renovate it instead, a work that was carried out between 1904 and 1906.
At that time, the Cerda Plan and Eixample District expansion were in full swing and the Catalan bourgeoisie all lived in Passeig de Gracia, the most coveted address at the heart of the city’s thriving economy which connected the old part of the city with Gracia.
Mr. Batlló was a prominent businessman of the time with several textile businesses and married the daughter of the Godo family, founders of the newspaper La Vanguardia. The couple and their four children lived in the house until Mrs. Batlló’s death in 1940.
The specific block where Casa Batlló is located is known as “La Manzana de la Discordia” in Spanish (Illa de la Discordia in Catalan) and directly translates as either “The Block of Discord” or “The Apple of Discord” (the word manzana in Spanish both refers to an apple and to a city block), a play on words.
This nickname is a reference to a story from Greek mythology that tells of a golden apple tossed in between four goddesses to incite them to fight for it to capture its beauty, an act which led to the Trojan Wars when Aphrodite, who got the apple, promised to give Helen of Troy to Paris who resolved the quarrel.
The stretch of Passeig de Gracia between C/Arago and Consell de Cent is lined with four houses by the most famous Modernist architects of the time, each displaying their own interpretation of Modernisme, each competing for the attention of the passers-by.
Puig i Cadafalch’s beautiful Casa Amatller (right by Casa Batlló), Domenech in Muntaner’s Casa Lleo Morera on the corner with its tall turrets, Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and its famous dragon roof and Enric Sagnier’s Casa Mulleres, grace this part of Eixample with some of their best residential work.
After the death of Mrs. Batlló, the children sold the house which was then owned by various companies and individuals through the decades, until the Bernat Family, owners of candy company Chupa Chups, bought it in 1994 and embarked on an effort to completely renovate it.
Casa Batlló first opened in 1995 exclusively for private events and it has been welcoming visitors since 2002, the Year of Gaudi. Apart from the regular audio-guided visits, there is a changing offer of events including night concerts and theatrical performances.
Casa Batlló’s famous facade gets dressed in red roses on Saint George’s Day (23rd of April) every year and on other marked occasions such as LGBTI Pride Parade in 2017 when it was lit with the colors of the rainbow, or with white balls of light for Christmas in 2019.
As this is a privately-owned building, a large percentage of the ticket sales goes towards the constant conservation work that is required to maintain such a delicate structure. If you visit Casa Batlló chances are you will find a small part of the house being renovated.
About Gaudi and his design for Casa Batllo
Antoni Gaudi started his professional architectural career in the 1880s, his first official work was actually a set of lampposts that you can still see on Plaza Reial in the Gothic Quarter and which brought light to the streets of the city for the first time.
But the architect had already left an imprint in the architectural world as a student and when he graduated, the Director of the Llotja School wondered if they had “given the title to a genius or a fool”.
Originally from Reus (or a small town nearby that his parents had a house in, experts can’t be certain), Gaudi moved to Barcelona at an early age to study architecture. He found fame and luck early on when he was discovered by his patron, sponsor and friend, industrialist Eusebi Guell.
From then on, he would become an acclaimed architect and have more work than he could accept. Residential houses, religious buildings and monuments were his forte and he left his imprint on about 20 works that have been preserved to date.
At the beginning of his career, Gaudi was a socialite. Involved in the Catalanism movement of La Renaixenca, although unlike his contemporary Puig i Cadafalch, he never took political roles.
He elevated Catalan culture and heritage through his works, which always revered and remembered Catalonia’s golden Medieval time and in particular, the Gothic period.
There are three elements you will find in almost all of Gaudi’s works: references to Catalan culture, religious components and nature, which was his biggest source of inspiration and creativity. Gaudi is also known for not believing in straight lines and they are hardly ever found in his designs.
As he became older and his family and friends, in particular his father and Eusebi Guell, died, Gaudi became more reserved and religious and progressively retired from social life to concentrate on his work and faith.
From 1915, he was entirely devoted to the construction of La Sagrada Familia and had abandoned all other projects, leaving some unfinished. He even moved into the Crypt where he lived at the time of his death and where he is buried.
Gaudi never married and had no children so it was his disciples who carried on with his work at the famous church.
The facade of Casa Batllo
Many people will pass by Casa Batllo and simply admire its facade. So fascinating is its design that there are people standing or sitting in front of it day and night, winter and summer, sunshine or rain.
What is on Casa Batllo’s facade that is so magical?
First of all, Casa Batllo’s facade has given the building many nicknames, from “The House of Bones”, because of the fishbone balconies, to “The Dragon House” because of its green and orange rooftop tiles that resemble the body of a dragon.
Gaudi did indeed want to represent Barcelona on the facade of Casa Batllo and took what made the city famous as inspiration. The Mediterranian Sea, which has made the city a magnet for civilizations for centuries, the Legend of Saint George and the vibrant and colorful culture.
When you look at the facade of Casa Batllo you can almost see Gaudi’s genius. His famous trencadis technique (broken pieces) was used to cover the facade with pieces of glass and ceramics that make a colorful mosaic with green, blue and white that remind you of the sea and of nature.
Unlike most buildings in the city, Casa Batllo seems alive and constantly changes in color as the day progresses. Although the facade only gets direct sunlight in the early summer mornings, the rooftop is bathed in light, sometimes turning redder, other times bluer.
No line is straight on Casa Batllo’s facade, from the fishbone balconies to the facade’s wall itself or the columns on the ground floor store. Gaudi realized that there were no straight lines in nature so he did not have straight lines in his designs either. This gives Casa Batllo a feeling of movement as if the dragon it represents was awake.
Like with all buildings in Eixample, the main floor, called Noble Floor or Principal, had a much larger balcony than the upper floors, and one which was covered to make a gallery and juts out onto the street below.
This is where the Batlló family lived. Expansive oval windows let the light in and allowed the family to see and be seen, to watch those passing by and show off their wealth. From the street, one could look in and marvel at the furniture, the clothes and the jewelry worn by the women of the house.
Gaudi not only designed the facade of Casa Batllo but also its interiors and several pieces of furniture. This is why Casa Batllo’s allegory of nature is more seamlessly integrated here than in any other Gaudi building.
The upper floors of Casa Batllo were rented out to tenants who had separate stairs and elevators to access their floors. Instead of a gallery, reserved only for the main floor, they had smaller balconies in the shape of a Carnival mask but following the same fishbone look.
Even the attic, where the servants would come to wash clothes, has a small balcony in the middle with the same white fishbone look. Today, from this small balcony, you can take photos with the facade behind you for a fee.
The most distinctive part of the facade is the rooftop. If you look up you will clearly see the red, green and blue tiles that make the rooftop look like the scales on the back of a giant sleeping dragon.
As the light touches them, these glazed tiles change in color so the rooftop never looks the same. In the late afternoon, they appear golden, in the morning, greener. Because of the gradation in color, they have movement, as if they were sea waves flowing with the wind.
At one end of the facade is a small tower that is topped with a four-sided cross pointing to the four cardinal points, north, south, east and west.
The Casa Batlló facade has many interpretations. The video above, produced by the Casa Batlló Foundation shows the magic behind Casa Batlló’s design.
It is known as the house of bones for the fishbone balconies, or as the house of the dragon for the rooftop dragon. Gaudi, as was typical of him, did not leave any documentation about the symbolism of the facade so each visitor can draw their own story.
Many agree that it is a representation of the Legend of Saint George which was a common element in many Modernist buildings such as Casa de les Punxes or Gaudi’s El Bellesguard.
However, others think the facade is a representation of the sea and the city’s prominence in the Mediterranean and as a port. Dali is known for having shared his interpretation as a marine scene as if Gaudi had told him.
Inside Casa Batlló, a look at its interiors
If there is one piece of advice I can give anyone visiting Barcelona is to go inside Casa Batlló. The facade is fantastic, but the house’s magic is inside and the SmartGuide is a great experience. It is not considered one of Gaudi’s masterpieces for nothing!
The self-guided tour with the virtual reality SmartGuide walks you through the building while you learn more about Gaudi, about Casa Batlló and about the many small details you would miss if you didn’t pay attention.
You can point the handset at some of the key decorative elements of the house and see them come to life in the way Gaudi conceived them.
Inside Casa Batlló with the SmartGuide
Visits to Casa Batlló start on the ground floor with the virtual reality audio guide which is included in all tickets. There are a series of numbers you can enter to follow the itinerary recommended.
Your visit starts on the ground floor where you get your audio guide. Don’t skip this area, even if it’s usually filled with visitors, for this is the base of the building. This is where Gaudi’s marine references are strongest. The blue tiles, with relief, look like water in a glass, and the grand staircase reflects the fishbone balconies. Perhaps it is a large marine animal’s spine.
There are elevators to go up to the first floor, but the stairs are part of the experience. As soon as you enter into the noble floor you will see the famous mushroom fireplace and turtle lights come to life through the audio guide.
Continue to enter the main living room with the gallery and you will immediately understand the role that this space played at the time: see and be seen. You have Passeig de Gracia, and the throngs of tourists standing in front of Casa Batlló, right at your feet.
Oval windows from floor to ceiling decorated with stained glass and floral patterns and hugged by warm wooden panels give the room an elegant look. I am speechless every time I walk into this room, and I have probably visited more than 5 times.
The room is filled with light and the doors that separate the two spaces let the light through as well since they are also decorated with stained glass. But look up because movement doesn’t stop at the doors, the ceiling is also undulated.
If you continue, you will head towards the back terrace, the interior patio-garden-courtyard that all buildings in Eixample have.
This back facade is also beautiful and the courtyard is where concerts and other events take place throughout the year, particularly in the summer. If you visit in the afternoon, it will be awash with light and the colorful tiles, on the wall and the floor, will shine.
Pro tip: In the halls at the back you can find a scale model of the house, and a replica of the famous chair-bench that Gaudi designed for Casa Calvet which you can actually sit on. At the store you can also see (and buy, if you feel so!) a replica of the Casa Batlló chair which is at the Met.
But perhaps one of the most fascinating and beautiful parts of the building’s interior is the patio of lights, or skylight, which Gaudi renovated and expanded when taking over the project. Here is where the marine feel is strongest.
The walls of the skylight are decorated with blue tiles in a gradation that goes from darker at the top to lighter at the bottom, to contrast the amount of light one finds when ascending towards the roof. In the winter of 2019/2020 snow fell through this skylight bringing magic to Casa Batlló’s interiors.
From the main noble floor, you need to climb up to the loft, or attic, where the rest of the tour continues. The remaining floors are occupied and rented out to businesses and not open to the public. Unlike Casa Mila or Casa de les Punxes, nobody lives inside Casa Batlló today.
As you climb up the stairs, you will see the various flats. Each of them has golden letters at the top that refer to the person living inside. Look and grab the doorknobs, they are incredibly ergonomic, and beautiful, even something as mundane as the staircase is pretty at Casa Batlló.
Casa Batlló’s loft is a great place to see one of Gaudi’s most famous contributions to architecture, his vaulted ceilings. If you visit Casa Mila or Colonia Guell you will see the same technique. This allowed him to have long corridors without columns in the middle.
The loft was used by the servants to wash clothes and you can still see the remains of the space. This is where you can take a picture with the facade as the background for a fee, I thought it was a really cute picture.
Continue to the rooftop terrace, which is one of the coolest parts of the visit. You can walk up the back of the facade and get up and close with the scales of the dragon (or the sea waves depending on what interpretation you like best).
The rooftop has another of Gaudi’s main features: his chimneys.
These structures look like tall heads with eyes and are covered in trencadis. There are four sets of them on either side of the skylight and they are not just decorative elements, they channel the smoke from the various fireplaces in the building. Each chimney is decorated differently but they all have flower motifs.
The views from the rooftop over Passeig de Gracia are stunning and another reason why you would want to visit Casa Batlló’s interior. You can also touch the dragon’s scales from here.
Casa Batlló Salo Modernista – Modernist Hall
Casa Batlló is constantly evolving and there are always new tours and experiences to be booked. In 2019, the house added a new space to the ticket choices. If you buy a Silver or Gold ticket, you also have access to the Modernist Hall.
This entire apartment is a peak at what the private spaces might have looked like at the time. The flat is entirely furnished with period pieces, and, although they were not the ones which originally filled the space, they are a good approximation to what a flat in Eixample looked like.
You will find beautiful furniture in there and, since the entry is only included in Silver and Gold tickets, the space tends to be much emptier. If you book the Gold tickets, you will also be able to dress with vintage clothes from the time and take a family picture on the sofa.
How to visit Casa Batlló
Visiting Casa Batlló is very easy but it does require planning because this is one of the most visited places in Barcelona and queues are a constant sight. I strongly recommend that you buy tickets ahead of time, don’t just show up because, with very few exceptions, there is always, always a queue.
Casa Batlló tickets and tours
You can visit Casa Batlló on your own with the SmartGuide or you can with your guide but these are the best options.
Pro tip: Buy ahead, tickets at the box office are 4 EUR more expensive.
|Tour||Price||What’s included||Book online|
|GUIDED TOUR and skip the line tickets for Casa Batllo + Park Guell + Sagrada Familia||149 EUR||Early access to Casa Batllo before it opens, skip the line and guided tour of Park Guell and skip the line guided tour of Sagrada Familia with access to the tower. Transport between both.||Book here|
|GUIDED TOUR Casa Batllo + Sagrada Familia||89 EUR||Visit the two most famous Gaudi buildings with a guide. You can stay at Sagrada Familia at the end.||Book here|
|Regular ticket Blue||25 EUR||SmartGuide self-guided tour.||Book here|
|Regular ticket Silver||33 EUR||Blue benefits plus access to the Private Modernist hall.||Book here|
|Regular ticket Gold||35 EUR||Silver benefits plus a vintage photo at the Modernist hall, skip the line option and better headset for the SmartGuide.||Book here|
|Early entry||39 EUR||Enter at 8:30am before the building opens at 9am.||Book here|
|PRIVATE TOUR with Gold ticket||230 EUR||For your party only, Gold tickets and a guide taking you through the house.||Book here|
If you have one of the following cards you get a 3 EUR discount on the ticket price:
- Bus Turístic – Book your Barcelona Tourist Bus here and go from landmark to landmark with WiFi.
- Barcelona Card – Get your Barcelona card here and enjoy discounts at 25+ places.
Children below the age of 7 enter free.
How to get to Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is very easily accessible on foot from most popular attractions in Barcelona and is right in front of the Metro and RENFE Rodalies train station for Passeig de Gracia. Its central location makes it the best connected tourist attraction in Barcelona.
Casa Batlló opening times
This is one of the few Barcelona attractions that are open all year round, even on Christmas and New Year’s day. It also opens until late, even at night during some periods, so it makes for a good idea when everything else, particularly museums, is closed.
Casa Batlló opens everyday from 9am to 9pm, early access tickets are available from 8:30am.
Restaurants near Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is in Passeig de Gracia and you cannot walk 100m without stumbling upon a few cafes and restaurants. However, with so much choice in the heart of the touristy area of Barcelona, it can be hard to choose so here are some of the best restaurants near Casa Batlló.
- Disfrutar, hands down my favorite restaurant in Barcelona, I must have eaten there every time I went back home. This 2-Michelin awarded restaurant by some of the chefs from elBulli is a set menu with up to 25 small dishes each reflecting a slice of Catalan food traditions in a molecular cuisine format. Despite the elevated culinary experience, the restaurant is laid back, casual and fun. Bookings are essential.
- Lasarte, the only 3-Michelin star restaurant in Barcelona is a stone’s throw from Casa Batlló and my second favorite restaurant. This one is a formal affair and collars and long trousers are required for men. Bookings are essential.
- El Nacional, gathers four restaurants under one turn of the 20th-century roof on an alley off Passeig de Gracia. You can find paella, seafood, grilled meats, tapas, etc.
- Tragaluz is a long-standing institution, one of the first to showcase modern Catalan fusion cuisine. I would recommend booking ahead as it is popular for business lunches. If you are craving a modern take on Japanese food, the Group’s casual El Japones restaurant is across the street.
- Monvinic, for a wine extravaganza, Km0 and proximity food. This extensive wine bar and restaurant has the largest offer of wines by the glass in the city and a seasonal lunch set menu for 35 EUR including wine.
- Txapela, for casual Basque pinchos (a sort of individual tapas served on a bread slice), is a great quick lunch option. You sit down, order from the menu’s pictures and get your food in a jiffy so you can continue exploring.
- Sopa de pedres is a local restaurant serving what’s fresh in the market and has a daily menu for 14 EUR. The chefs are previous alumni from elBulli too.
Hotels near Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is very centrally located and has several five-star hotels nearby, some of them are my most favorite hotels in Barcelona. Here are the best hotels near Casa Batlló.
- Monument Hotel, a sleek hotel representative of Barcelona, modern design with heritage elements and some of the fanciest rooms in the city. See more pictures, reviews & prices here.
- Majestic Hotel, the oldest hotel in Barcelona standing the test of time stronger than ever since the last renovation, and offering great views on Passeig de Gracia and phenomenal service. Here is my complete review of The Majestic Barcelona. See more pictures, reviews & prices here.
- The One Barcelona, one street from Passeig de Gracia, was a nice surprise on my last trip, a truly fantastic hotel with a great rooftop terrace, pool, bar and restaurant, and great gold and neutral rooms. See more pictures, reviews & prices here.
- Mandarin Hotel, the most premium and exclusive hotel in Barcelona is a mere couple of blocks from Casa Batlló. Fantastic rooftop pool, signature service and attention to detail and a dining offer that merits a visit, in particular, the 2-Michelin star MOments restaurant. See more pictures, reviews & prices here.
- Hotel Murmuri, a more affordable 4-star hotel option on Rambla Catalunya part of the Majestic Hotel Group. See more pictures, reviews & prices here.