Exploring Antoni Gaudí’s Palau Guëll

Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

I'm just going to take five photos, I thought to myself. I don't actually have to take a hundred photos of every place I visit, making it ever more difficult to choose a couple and write about it. I suspect that many readers familiar with Palau Guëll in Barcelona are already enjoying a hearty laugh at my expense. It is safe to say that this wonderful example of Antoni Gaudí design far exceeded my expectations in every way. 

The Basement in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

We began our tour of the palace in the basement where the horses were kept and we had a chance to see the original canine hitching posts. I loved the light in the basement which was enhanced by both the central skylight and the light streaming in from the windows at street level. 

Dog hitching post in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell


Paraballic arches in Antoni Gaudi's Palau Guell

We moved to the ground floor next where we admired the parabolic arches above the main doors and ascended the central staircase to the mezzanine level. We admired the original wooden door, complete with the most beautiful peep hole. The lamp in the photo below is original as is the tropical red bullet wood ceiling. 

Central staircase leading up to the Mezzanine level in Antoni Gaudi's Palau Guell

Original lamp in Antoni Gaudi's Palau Guell

We took the stairs to the main floor and turned towards the Hall of Intimates. I was quite fascinated by the name of this space alone and this is where the Guëll daughters gave piano concerts and where the family dined with their closest friends. The walnut table and oak chairs finished with embossed leather are all original to the Guëll era. 

The Hall of Intimates in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

Outside of the Hall of Intimates, I saw an unremarkable corridor and could not fathom why I was being directed to look down it. It was only after I brought my camera to my eye and looked down the viewfinder that I saw it. The light flowing through the stained glass windows was simply exquisite.

Corridor in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

This corridor connected the palace with the family residence on nearby La Rambla where Guëll's father resided. 

Neighbouring buildings in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

We soon emerged on to the southern terrace where I admired the rear facade of the building as well as the neighbouring residences. What a difference in style!

The Room of Lost Steps in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

We retraced our steps and found ourselves in the Hall of Lost Steps. By now I was loving the names of all the different rooms. I am sad to admit that I have no idea why the hall has this name. I think it is because of its unique acoustic properties. What is notable about this space, apart from the fact that it leads to the Central Hall, is that Gaudí made use of the bay window area by erecting three arches and thus creating the illusion of a slightly wider space. 

The Ceiling of the Visitor's Room in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

I wandered next into the Visitor's Hall which afforded a view of the dressing room where female guests could prepare for occasions. The Visitor's Hall had the most beautiful oak, wrought iron and gold leaf ceiling and stained glass windows looking on to the street. To the top left in the photo below is a lattice window that allowed the Guëlls to observe guests without being seen. How intriguing!

The Visitor's Room in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

We moved back into the Hall of Lost steps and it was finally time to admire the Central Hall which was quite exquisite. Looking up we could see the parabolic dome as well as the pipes of the organ.

Looking up in the Central Hall in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

From the Musician's Gallery, we were afforded quite a view of the hall. The doors ahead are the doors to the chapel. When they were open, the halls was used for religious services and when they were closed, the hall was used for recitals, concerts and other gatherings. 

The Central Hall in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

The screen separating the Musician's Gallery from the central hall was made of rosewood and ebony and designed in the Arabian style that appealed to Gaudí. 

Arabian Style Screen in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

Ascending the stairs to the bedroom level, we found  ourselves in another Hall of Intimates, this time used by the family as a sitting room. I especially liked the painting of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary above the fireplace. It was done by Alexandre de Riquer and was done with gold and stone inlay in marble. 

St Elizabeth in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

From the hall of intimates, we gained a fantastic view of the organ pipes and I admired the windows that opened on to the central hall too.

Pipe Organ in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

Art Deco Windows Looking Out To Central Hall in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

On this level, we also saw the bedrooms of Eusebi Guëll, his wife Isabel López and their six children. There was an exhibition of Guëll furniture, including this art nouveau screen and a dressing table belonging to the eldest of the Guëll daughters, Isabel. 

Art Nouveau Screen in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

Before escaping the heat of the bedroom level, we paused only to admire these geometric bathroom tiles before rushing to the attic. 

Geometric bathroom tiles  in Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

The servants used to stay on the attic level and laundry and kitchen tasks were performed there too. The attic seems lovely and airy today but it's hard to believe that eleven bedrooms were crammed up there together with a kitchen and laundry. 

Attic level of  Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

I peeked out of the window and took another opportunity to admire the houses behind. I do love seeing how people live. 

Houses behind Antoni Gaudi's Palau Guell

Finally it was time to climb our final set of stairs to the roof level. If I broke my five photo rule in the house then I smashed it completely on the roof which is why it deserves its own post. Here is just a taster.

Central spire on roof of Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

Mosaic chimney stacks on roof of Antonio Gaudi's Palau Guell

Palau Guëll costs just €12 to get in and the admission charge includes the use of an especially interesting and informative audio guide which is very helpful. Of all the places I’ve paid to enter in recent months, this was the money best spent and I would absolutely recommend a visit. Also worth noting is that Palau Guëll open their doors for free on the first Sunday of each month but tickets are naturally limited and you must be there at 10am or 3pm in order to claim tickets.

Palau Guëll
Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 3-5
08001 Barcelona

A Night at the Opera: Tosca at the ENO

ENO Tosca Company (c) Richard Hubert Smith

My love for opera is quite new. I was always in love with the idea of opera, inspired by countless films in which the characters sat in the balcony at the opera and silently wept, but my first night out at the opera was last year. Of course, that was all it took. Seeing Puccini's La Bohème at the ENO was incredibly moving and I knew then that I had become a lifelong fan.

Naturally I was delighted when the ENO contacted me to ask if I would like to see Puccini’s Tosca, on at the ENO until December. I said yes straight away and was thus treated to an evening of tragedy, colourful costumes and breathtaking sets.

The Story

Tosca is set in Rome during the time of Napoleon's invasion of Italy. It is the story of betrayal, political sabotage and a politician who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. It is also the story of a love that knows no parallel.

ENO Tosca Gwyn Hughes Jones and Keri Alkema 1 (c) Richard Hubert Smith

Tosca is an opera singer known across all of Rome for her talent and beauty. She is deeply in love with the artist Cavaradossi but her jealousy stands ever at the fringe of their relationship. When Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, flees to the Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome, Cavaradossi agrees to hide him but it is a decision that will change his life forever. Suddenly, sadistic police chief Scarpia has his sights on Cavaradossi but it is Tosca who he really wants.

What follows is a story of unbearable treachery and murder, sweetened only by a love that knows no bounds.

The Production

Tosca at the ENO is an extravaganza of colour, sound and incredible set design. It really was a feast for all of the senses and made for a highly entertaining evening.

ENO Tosca Gwyn Hughes Jones and Robert Winslade Anderson (c) Richard Hubert Smith

Soprano Keri Alkema is Tosca and she captures the audience’s imagination as the passionate and playful opera singer. Her lover Cavaradossi is played by Gwyn Hughes Jones, notable for his dedication to Tosca and his defiance in the face of adversity.

Craig Colclough plays Scarpia and he was utterly convincing and quite frightening as the nasty and dastardly villain. He was thoroughly horrible.

ENO Tosca Keri Alkema and Craig Colclough 1 (c) Richard Hubert Smith

The dramatic storyline is accompanied by Puccini’s powerful score and the orchestra was conducted by noted Puccini specialist Oleg Caetani.


If you’ve ever wanted to see the opera but aren’t sure where to start, then the English National Opera is the place to start. Their aim is to bring opera to the masses and they do everything in their power to ensure that people without an in-depth knowledge of foreign languages or famous plays can enjoy a night out at the opera. The performances are in English with surtitles above the stage to assist the audience in following the story. I’d also highly recommend the ENO programmes too, they are full of information about the writers, the social and political environment in which the operas were drafted and notable performances over the years.

ENO Tosca Craig Colclough and Gwyn Hughes Jones (c) Richard Hubert Smith

Opera Undressed

The ENO have also gone one step further with their brand new Opera Undressed events. If you sign up for a free Opera Undressed membership, you can experience your first opera for just £20 plus booking fee and also attend a pre-performance talk about the production plus a post-show party with the cast. Not only is this incredible value but we found the pre-performance talk to be especially informative and interesting.

The Trailer


Tosca at the ENO is on until 3 December 2016 and is highly recommended.

London Coliseum
St Martin’s Lane

I’d like to thank the ENO for inviting me along to the Opera Undressed event for Tosca at the London Coliseum.

All photos © Richard Hubert Smith