GAUDI’S ODYSSEY WITH LEON
To think of Antoni Gaudí is to think of Barcelona, of the impossible spires of the Sagrada Familia and the colourful mosaics of the Parque Güell. However, the brilliant architect three times left his print outside his birthplace. On two occasions, he did so almost simultaneously in the 1890s in León. Astorga Episcopal Palace and Casa Botines are not found amongst the architect’s most popular works, but they are two of the most important works of his career.
The harsh Castilian climate forced Gaudí to make changes in his particular style. The thick walls and the slate roofs of Casa Botines are a clear example of this. However, the architect did not give up his imagination and both works are clearly stamped in Catalan modernism. The new techniques that the genius used in his works brought criticism from the population, and the saying “la Casa Botines se cae” [Casa Botines is falling down] was made popular even before the house was standing. Numerous reports backed this theory, but Gaudí was inflexible and put down the argument by ironically saying that he would hang the reports on the walls of the future construction.
It was also difficult to build Astorga Episcopal Palace. The disputes with the Cabildo and the bureaucratic obstacles ended with Gaudí abruptly giving up the project, which was finished off by another architect in under a year. Gaudí therefore used what he had planned for the Episcopal Palace in the Casa Botines. Both buildings were criticised, but today León is proud to have two of the best works of the best of our architects.
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