Rumbo al Norte – Day 8: Gaudi’s Whim

Honestly, we thought we’d find the building, get off, take a few photos and then continue.

Instead we found a large door, a ticket office and a very tall wall surrounding the house.

So we parked and went in, begrudging the 5 euros (each) we had to pay but (yet again!) thanking our lucky stars that it is December and there was no one around. What we were about to visit was a house, designed by Gaudi for Maximo Diaz de Quijano, a rich Spanish emigrant that was back home from years of success in Cuba.

By the way (tiny side note here) I discovered that the word “Indiano” in Spanish not only means “Indian” and “Native American” but also (are you ready?) a Spanish emigrant that went to Central and South America, made a fortune.

Anyway….Called “el Capricho”, the whim, it was built in only two years (1883-1885). I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I had seen photos and thought I’d probably like it.

When I saw it, it wasn’t like the couple of photos I had seen on internet.

It was so, so much better.


Like a grown doll house it sat, very primly, in its tiny little garden. Rows and rows of sunflowers lined its walls; windows stared at you as you walked under them; the birds on the columns completely ignored you as they wove their nests.



I don’t think I’ve ever really seen anything by Gaudi before today. I’ve been to Barcelona, once so long ago I don’t remember anything and another time not so long ago in which I had a raging fever during my visit to the Park Güell and then stayed in bed for the rest of the weekend. And I have seen photos and maybe a documentary about Gaudi, and his work, but you know when you see things but you don’t really see them? Well, I do that a lot. And apparently I did it with Gaudi, too, until today.

Today, I finally saw Gaudi.

I saw how smooth and harmonious his architecture is. How every single detail has been thought out and pondered and sketched and erased and improved and then added, carefully, calmly.


I saw how much nature plays a part in his architecture. How even though the house wasn’t small, it fit snugly in the tiny garden surrounding it and didn’t seem exaggerated or out of place, even though it is slightly over the top.


This stained glass window, for example, was made to satisfy two of the owner’s passions: nature (the bee) and music (the bird playing the piano). What I discovered while I was trying to take the perfect photo, is that three of the stained glass tiles on top of the main panes had hidden drawings: a flower, a daffodil and a butterfly.


Maximo Diaz, after so much time spent in Cuba, liked his afternoons hot and humid and full of luscious plants and trees and flowers. So Gaudi built an indoor winter garden on the main floor. After all, why not.


Upstairs, the straight lines and curvy furniture compensated each other perfectly. I loved the contrast between the deep brown – nearly burgundy! – of the wood and the bright white of the walls.





Oh, I’m sorry. Did you see that mirror in the last photo? Here it is again, just in case you missed it. Or just in case you’ve fallen head over heels for it and need to see it alone (like me).


You could even walk around the tight balconies that were all over the second floor.

From here, we saw the statue.

Gaudi, in bronze, sitting in the garden serenely contemplating his finished work of art.


A tribute to a genius, because indeed he is.



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