Casa de les Punxes (House of Spikes) is one of the most recognisable modernista landmarks on the Barcelona skyline. Designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, it’s a large neo-Gothic castle inspired by medieval Gothic architecture and, more specifically, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Occupying a triangular block in the Eixample district, it became known as Casa de les Punxes due to the six punxes or spikes of its towers.
Bartomeu Terrades and Àngela Brutau, linked to the Sabadell industry, left everything in inheritance to their son Bartomeu Terrades i Brutau. In compensation, they decided to refurbish three houses they owned in Eixample district for their three daughters, Ángela, Josepa and Rosa, in a block standing between Diagonal Avenue, Rosselló and Bruc Streets. Josep Puig i Cadafalch was commissioned to redevelop the buildings and linked them together on one site behind a vast brick facade.
An imposing castle
His project, which was completed in 1905, resulted in an imposing triangular structure which rises up like a grand medieval castle with four turrets, one on each corner. Externally it has the appearance of a single building, but they are three independent buildings that only share the terrace. Its nickname, Casa de les Punxes, comes from the conical roofs, which end in a spike.
Casa de les Punxes dominates one of the corners of Diagonal and stands out among the buildings that were built during the golden age of Modernista Barcelona at the start of the 20th century.
The exterior delights anyone who goes to take a closer look. Apart from the magnificent towers, the highly decorated brickwork facade with decorative rosettes is noteworthy. In one of these, and typical of Modernista buildings of that time, there is the famous image of Sant Jordi with the legend in writing, which says: Sant Patró de Catalunya Torneu-nos la llibertat (Patron Saint of Catalonia. Give us back our freedom). Another example of the nationalism that often imbues Catalan Modernisme.
On the facade, in the frame of the panel of Saint George, you can see the face of a male figure, with round eyes, a receding hairline and thick lips. It is the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
Symbology at the service of its owners
The exterior uniformity seems obvious, but the decorative features reveal which sister owned each house. One of the most beautiful distinctive elements are the panels: an angel for Àngela and roses for Rosa. For Josepa, the flowery cammock of Saint Joseph was included. We also find other details, such as the initials of each of them in their buildings.
The brickwork on the facade blends with the wrought-iron on the balconies, designed by Manuel Ballarín, the neo-Gothic style sculptural reliefs by Alfons Juyol, and stained-glass windows by Eduard Amigó. The ceramic panels surmounting the facade refer to the patriotic symbols of Catalonia, as stated above.
The building was fully restored in 2003. In 2016 it was opened to the public to exhibit one of the main floors and the terraces, which also act as a venue for small shows.