The Block of Discord

If you have been in Barcelona you have probably visited a few of the amazing buildings by Antoni Gaudí. Does the nickname “Block of Discord” ring a bell with you?

Manzana de la Discordia sits in Passeig de Gràcia, which was the main avenue a century ago. The wealthiest families in town wanted their homes here, commissioning the best architects and craftsmen in town to build them. They wanted to make sure their future house would be just wonderful, not only for the joy of the residents but for everyone else. Were they just being generous to the city?

In this block there are five homes facing the avenue and three of them were built by the three greatest architects in town on the turning of the century: Domènech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch and Antoni Gaudí. The three architects had very different approaches to architecture, so different that even though they were all built on the first decade of the XXth century, they have little in common besides the rich decoration. We will be writing in the following weeks about this homes but today we just would like to tell you about the funny name of this block.

In Spanish language the words “apple” and “block” are both manzana. This allowed locals at the time when the houses were being built to play on words, calling it the “Block/Apple of Discord”. This name could refer to the block were three families were trying hard to impress everybody, sparing no expense, in the construction of their new home. It could also refer, though, to a Greek myth that tells that the goddess of discord was not invited to a very important wedding and as a revenge she showed up anyway bringing a golden apple that could be kept by the most beautiful goddess. Three claimed the apple: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, but who was the fairest one? Big rivalry began! It was just like in the block of discord. Barcelonians would stand accross the street and try to decide which was the prettiest home, nobody agreeded and endless discussion was set.

The big rivalry here though was not among the architects and their projects but among the three families:

Lleó-Morera, Amatller and Batlló. We will be telling you about them soon!    




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