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  • Writer's pictureSonia Cuesta Maniar, PhD

A Brief History of the Casa Lleó Morera in Barcelona

What is Casa Lleó Morera?

Casa Lleó Morera is an Early-20th-century urban mansion in Barcelona that was designed by Catalan Modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

Casa Lleó Morera

Casa Lleó Morera History

Casa Lleó Morera is a true architectural treasure, designed by leading Catalan Modernist Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Its redesign was commissioned by Francesca Morera i Ortiz in 1902 when she inherited the house from her wealthy uncle Antoni Morera. Aware of Domènech i Montaner's reputation as a major talent, she gave the acclaimed architect free rein. Sadly, Francesca died in 1904 before she saw the house completed. Instead, her son, Albert Lleó i Morera, took possession shortly after her death, bestowing upon the building its current name.

Domènech i Montaner renovated the exterior and interior of the building in his characteristic Modernist style, demolishing and rebuilding the façade and adding three galleries and stone balconies to its various floors. To complete his project, the architect worked with a group of master artists and craftsmen renowned for their creativity. The team included sculptor Eusebi Arnau i Mascort, mosaicists Lluís Brú i Salelles and Mario Maragliano Navone and furniture designer Gaspar Homar i Mezquida, among others.

Completed in 1906, the house, on its corner plot, consists of two beautiful façades divided by a tower. The most striking elements of the design are the impressive curved balconies and galleries. The stonework evokes the serenity of a convent cloister. The façades also feature numerous references to mulberry trees, allusions to the family's surname Morera (which means ‘mulberry’ in English).

The interior showcases different applied arts in Modernist features specially commissioned by the architect. The house has some of the best-preserved stained-glass windows, mosaics and woodwork in Barcelona. Notably, the dining room and living room are lit by stained-glass windows representing the Tree of Life, birds and landscapes. The windows, designed by Antoni Rigalt i Blanch, fill the interior with constantly shifting hues. Reminders of the Morera family include mulberry motifs on door handles, mosaic portraits, and a mulberry tree in the patio.

Sadly, after the 1920s, Modernism went out of fashion and the building fell into disrepair. At the outset of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Modernist buildings were criticised as over-opulent symbols of bourgeois power. Several such buildings were vandalised in the early months of the war; others were damaged during the bombing of Barcelona. Casa Lleó Morera was one of these. In 1937, Domènech i Montaner’s cupola tower on the rooftop was seriously damaged by machine-gun fire. The house was eventually restored to its original glory in the 1980s by architect and historian Òscar Tusquets.

While perhaps not as renowned as Antoni Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner is widely acknowledged to be an architectural genius. His Casa Lleó Morera mixes functionality with Modernist ornamentation and curvilinear lines. With its splendid decoration, sculptures, ceramics, wood, marble, stained-glass and mosaics, the house remains a treasured example of Catalan Modernism.

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