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Via Laietana

Catalonia's Wall Street

Caixa de Pensions and Barcelona’s first skyscraper

Named after Barcelona’s first inhabitants, Vía Laietana was drilled through the medieval town in the name of progress in 1907, much to the horror of preservationists (who quickly moved to protect the rest of the Barri Gòtic from similar depredations). The intention was to create a modern business centre, and it does have its share of banks.

Heading north from Plaça de l’Àngel, there’s the Casa Cambó (1921–5) at No.30, a cross between Noucentisme and the Chicago school, topped with a classical penthouse and lush garden. The same architect, Adolf Florensa, built No.31 in 1931, in the Florentine Renaissance palace style, and No.34, the Chicago-style Chamber of Commerce (1931–6).

The monumental neoclassical Caixa de Catalunya (1933) at No.35 looks like a refugee from Madrid, with its elaborate rooftop sculpture and vestibule à la Art Deco, a style rare in Barcelona. At No.50 stands a survivor from the past, the Casa dels Velers (1763), headquarters of the silk makers’ guild, esgrafiadoed with atlantes and caryatids in the latest silks.

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Barri Gòtic

Contemporary Art and Architecture

Streets & Squares

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Enfo, Creative Commons License