The Torre Bellesguard, whose official name is the Casa Figueras, was Antoni Gaudí’s most personal project, as he had completely free rein in its construction, with the only restriction being that of respecting the ruins of the nearby medieval castle. In spite of this, and also in spite of being labelled a ‘Bien de Interés Cultural’ or ‘Heritage Site of National Interest’ in 1969, it’s still one of the least known works of modernist architecture. That’s probably in part due to the fact that it’s outside the heart of the city centre, in the Sarrià – Sant Gervasi district, at the bottom of the Serra de Collserola, and also because it only opened its doors to the public in 2013.
The Torre Bellesguard’s history goes back to the beginning of the 15th century, when King Martí I of Aragó, also known as ‘Martí l’Humà’ or ‘Martin the Elder’ or ‘the Ecclesiastic’, ordered the construction of a castle for his residence in the middle of the mountains, a strategic location that allowed him to avoid the thin air near the sea, which apparently affected his poor and diminishing health. King Martí married Margarida de Prades in this castle, in a ceremony attended by Antipope Benedict XIII (the Papa Luna) and the Dominican Vicente Ferrer. The King died a year later, and consequently the castle was left abandoned and fell into disrepair over a period of several centuries, even being used as the night-time hiding place of one of the most well-known and documented highwaymen of the 17th century, Serrallonga.
Gaudí’s Torre Bellesguard
Designed at the beginning of the 20th century (1900-1909), the Torre Bellesguard was commissioned by Maria Sagués Molins, the widow of Jaume Figueras, and Antoni Gaudí was the chosen architect. Gaudí was mindful of the fact that the project was to be carried out on the same land on which King Martí’s castle was built 500 years earlier, and he wanted to go much further than to simply maintain the visible remains of the castle, as he did with part of its wall, opting to turn the tower into a kind of homage to the king. The façade of the tower that he built therefore resembled that of the image of a castle, much more so than with Gaudí’s better-known works such as Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. However, what it does have in common with these works is the great use of symbolism in all its elements.
Designed from start to finish by Antoni Gaudí himself, various elements of the Torre Bellesguard were actually carried out by one of his collaborators, as is the case with the striking mosaic benches, the work of Domènec Sugrañes i Gras employing the Trencadís technique. Unfortunately the original furniture from the Torre Bellesguard hasn’t survived, as the building was seized during the Spanish Civil War, and was actually used as an orphanage during this unstable period in history. All the furniture was burnt in order to keep the children warm during the freezing winter. Once this struggle was over, the house was bought by the respected oncologist Lluís Guilera Molas, who renovated it and adapted it for use as a hospital, of which the autopsy room can still be seen today.
Your visit to the Torre Bellesguard
There are two ways to visit Torre Bellesguard. One of them is with a guided visit where an expert on modernism and the works of Gaudí, as well as the construction and history of Torre Bellesguard, accompanies visitors throughout the visit. The second option is to visit Torre Bellesguard for free, thanks to the commentary of an audio guide in various languages.
Opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 15:00.
€ Adults: €9.
€ Concessions: €7.20 (under 18s and senior citizens over the age of 65).
€ Free entry: children under the age of 8.
English, Spanish, Catalan, French, Japanese and Russian.
In English: saturday and sunday at 11:00.
In Spanish: saturday at 12:00 and sunday at 13:15.
In Catalan: saturday at 13:15 and sunday at 12:00.
€ Adults: €16€.
€ Concessions: €12.80 (under 18s and senior citizens over the age of 65).
€ Free entry: Children under the age of 8.
1 hour – 1¼ hours.
For exclusive large group visits (from 11 to 15 people), as well as guided visits in other languages, you need to book in advance by email or phone.
(+34) 93 250 40 93
€ Normal: €9
€ Reduced: €7.20
€ Free: children under 8 years old
€ Normal: €14€
€ Reduced: €12.80€
€ Free: children under 8 years old
What spaces can you visit during the tour?
The Torre Bellesguard is currently still the private residence of the Guilera family, so not all the rooms in the building are accessible to visitors. However, you can still visit many of the spaces in Torre Bellesguard, both outside and inside.
Also known as the music room due to its function, this room has amazing acoustics. It is a unique space, because it is unfinished you can see the inner depths of a space designed and created by Antoni Gaudí, something which is priceless compared to his other well-known and visited architectural works.
Terrace with views
This is one of the most charming areas of the visit, as not only will you be able to see the pinnacle and the dragon that Gaudí designed close-up, you’ll also be able to see magnificent views of the Serra de Collserola and of Barcelona from the terrace.
These are the old stables of Torre Bellesguard, a space where you can see the original troughs and view a video made using a drone.
The grounds of the house form a very interesting part of the tour, because from this area you will be able to appreciate the remains of the 15th century medieval castle. Although this is the most interesting element of the gardens, there are also plenty of little corners and other details that are worth looking at.
The Crown of Aragon’s Shield
You will find the Crown of Aragon’s shield at the start of the visit to the garden, in the structure that was added to the castle’s original wall. On it you’ll see two dates: 1409, in honour of the construction of the original Rei Martí Castle, and 1909, marking the completion of the Torre Bellesguard. You’ll also see a rising sun, a symbol of these two glorious periods in history.
Wrought Iron Cross
It’s thought that it was Gaudí himself, and not one of his apprentices, who designed this cross.
Benches next to the façade
There are two mosaic benches that were carried out using the Trencadís technique. The work of Gaudí’s apprentice Domènec Sugrañes i Gras is clearly evident here, as his Trencadís resembles much more the technique carried out by the Romans, more uniform than the uneven style of Gaudí himself.
In the garden there are two large benches, one opposite the other. The unique acoustic of the surroundings means that two people sitting at opposite ends can talk to each other and be heard easily, even when they are speaking very quietly.
The castle’s walls
The remains of the original walls of the King Martín’s Castle are easily visible in the garden, so in spite of their similarity to the more modern 20th century construction that surrounds them, their structure can be easily differentiated.
The Torre Bellesguard’s façade
Although the modernist elements can’t be denied, the predominant style of the Torre Bellesguard’s façade is neogothic. Taking a quick look around, you’ll immediately see that Gaudí broke away from his usual style, mainly using straight lines, as you can see in the parapets and the surface of the walls. The counterpoint is seen in the form of small pieces of slate, originating from the neighbouring Serra de Collserola, whose forms and colours aren’t in any way random – they were separated according to these characteristics by the labourers at Gaudí’s request. Thanks to the great variety in the colours of the stones and of their positioning, the view you’ll have will change as the sunlight that shines on the façade changes, which is one of the great charms of the tower.
Full of symbolism, you can see the cross that crowns the highest point of the pinnacle, one of the hallmarks of the artist, as well as the four stripes of the Crown of Aragon.
Inscription at the entrance
This inscription reads ‘Maria Puríssima sens pecat fou concebuda”, (“Purest Maria, conceived without sin”).
The Star of Venus
A stained glass window in the form of the 8-pointed star of Venus, over the house’s entrance door.
Gaudí’s obsession for integrating and even copying the elements of the natural environment in which the building stands can be seen in every last detail, including the exterior pipework, the design of which resembles a tree.
The inside of the Torre Bellesguard
If you compare it with its exterior, the inside of the Torre Bellesguard is completely different. It’s a clear contrast to its castle-like appearances from outside. Inside Gaudí opted for the modernist style, which makes it much more recognisable as the great Catalan architect’s work. You can also see Gaudí’s signature use of natural daylight to light up the inside of his buildings, helped in this case by some unusually positioned windows. Thanks to the plastered walls that are painted white, maximum benefit is gained from the light.
The dragon on the terrace
From one of the corners of the terrace you can appreciate the dragon that Gaudí designed for this part of the tower. It’s something you won’t be able to see from outside, and is a favourite with all visitors.
The light in the entrance hall
This is one of the most striking elements of the entrance, thanks to its coloured lead glass and the use of wrought iron.
The light in the music room
If this were to be turned upside down it would take the form of the crown of King Martí.
Tricks of the light
The stained glass window above the balcony of the small room on the fourth floor shows various tricks of the light that change depending on the time of the day.
The Star of Venus
The sheer beauty of the Star of Venus stained glass window can be admired to its full potential from the inside, although it can also be seen from outside.
The Spiders Web roof
To support the tower’s pinnacle Gaudí opted for a structural solution that resembles a spider’s web and also the sea’s waves.
On the Calle de Bellesguard you’ll find a viaduct that was designed by Antoni Gaudí and that was constructed alongside the tower. You can visit it at your leisure, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover one of the least-visited works by the great Catalan architect.
As the Torre Bellesguard is somewhat further away from the city than Barcelona’s other sights, we recommend that if you do decide to visit it, you should take the opportunity to catch the nearby Tramvia Blau, which will take you up to the Plaça del Dr Andreu, where you can have a drink in two of the bars which boast the best views of the city, Mirabé and Mirablau. You can also visit the nearby CosmoCaixa (Science Museum), which is almost compulsory if you’re visiting Barcelona with children.
Where is the Torre Bellesguard and how do I get there?
In spite of the fact that it’s a little further away from the city and not quite as accessible as some of Barcelona’s other sights, we still think that a visit to the Torre Bellesguard is highly recommended, especially if you’re in the city for more than 3 days.
c/ de Bellesguard 16-20, Barcelona.
You can find all the information you need about opening hours, guided tours and visits at your leisure above.
You can find all the information you need above.