The Sleeping Beauty Castle is located in Barcelona and opened in 2016 after remaining closed to the public for a century.
It is likely that those who have ever strolled down Diagonal Avenue have set themselves in a building with several towers ending in striking needles. It is a museum of Barcelona, the house of les Punxes or house Terradas, built by the modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1905 for the Terradas family. Today I am going to tell you the story of this building inspired by the “Castle of the Crazy King” or Neuschwanstein, the same one who chose Walt Disney as a model for his “Sleeping Beauty”
A museum in Barcelona, the house of the Punxes
Bartomeu Terradas i Mont was an entrepreneur of the textile industry of Barcelona in the late nineteenth century. In 1901, after his death, his fortune passed into the hands of his son and main heir Bartomeu Terradas Brutau (who was player of a newly created Football Club Barcelona and, later, second president of its history).
The deceased also wanted to take care of the welfare of his three daughters, for whom he financed the construction of a building that would be divided into three houses, one for each daughter. The project was commissioned to the Barcelona architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch who designed a building with Central European influence following the modernist current of the moment.
Three daughters, three houses, the same building
The building was located in a somewhat peculiar location, a triangular space in the newly urbanized district of Barcelona’s Ensanche. The project consisted of a single building block that looked like a single house, but actually three, each with distinctive signs on its facades, designed exclusively for the three daughters by the painter Enric Monserdá. The most characteristic of the construction are its six towers, crowned by two conical needles, which gave it the popular name of house of the punks (“the pinchos”, in Catalan).
To distinguish each of the daughters chose different ornamentations: for Angela, in the house number 420 of the Diagonal, made a ceramic design where he drew an angel and the clover as a recurrent floral element. At the entrance door he used the Mudejar style. For estate 418, owned by Josefa, designed a sundial and a calendar, building the entrance portal in a Gothic style with decorative pinnacles representing the florid wand of San Jose.
Finally, for Rosa, at 416 Diagonal, he used two panels with floral motifs referring to the flower of the same name, which can also be seen in the ornaments in stone and iron.
In the back of Josefa’s house the architect designed another ceramic ceiling, which represents the story of Sant Jordi killing the dragon. This shows the romantic tendency of Puig i Cadafalch to recover medieval legends of Catalonia. The presence of this ceiling has served to give a new direction to the construction in its current project.
From private house to private museum
On the death of the three women, who did not leave descendants, the building passed to his brother’s property. In 1975 it was declared National Historical Monument and from the 90’s began a process of restoration that culminated in its reopening as a museum in 2016.
This museum focuses on the theme of Sant Jordi, patron of Catalonia, dedicating to it the main floor of the building, the only one open to the public. Apart from this, the other two units with public access are the ground floor and the terrace that gives access to the six towers. Inside, the different rooms have been converted into interactive spaces where the history of Sant Jordi is projected, respecting the decoration of columns and windows, as well as an old elevator of the year 1906.
On the roof, besides the access to the viewpoint of the main tower, you can see several exhibitions about the architect, the Terradas family, the symbolism of the building, and the history of Barcelona at the time of its construction).
One of the most interesting details of these small expositions is the explanation of the origin of the term “can fanga” for the Barcelonans. This term comes from the fact that at the beginning of the century, much of the city was under construction and when it rained it became a mud. Related to this and with Puig i Cadafalch is the creation of one of the symbols of Barcelona: the flower panot or rose of Barcelona, a type of tile designed by the architect for the house Amatller but used a posteriori to pave numerous streets of the city. On the flower panot I already spoke in this other entrance in which I proposed a game.