Barcelona architecture. The Sagnier route.

Today we are talking about an architect from Barcelona who may not be as famous as Gaudí, but he is the one with the largest number of buildings in the city. This is Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia.


A total of 380 works cataloged in Barcelona have been registered by Sagnier, and he is one of the most relevant architects of the modernist era, which he shared with Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch or Domènech i Montaner among others. But if we analyze his work we see that he makes his own interpretation of this artistic movement, showing an eclectic style and in any case, more French or neo-Gothic.


Sagnier was born in Barcelona in 1858. He had a solid artistic training and graduated in architecture in 1882. From a young age he received numerous commissions from civil society, the administration and the Church. His work is varied. In 1887 he married Dolors Vidal i Torrents, with whom he had five children.


Throughout his life he received numerous distinctions, such as the gold medal from the Barcelona City Council, awarded in 1921 after obtaining the award for the third time in the annual competition for the best building erected in the city. Enric Sagnier died in Barcelona in 1931.

His legacy was recognized by the Barcelona City Council, officially creating the Sagnier Route in 2009. You can see all the information here but from Blanc Guest House we have allowed ourselves to make our small selection of buildings you can see.

We start at Paseo de Gracia. At the beginning of the avenue, on the right, is the Pascual i Pons house (Paseo de Gracia, 2). The facade is neo-Gothic in style and is considered the first building to be built on Paseo de Gracia, it has magnificent towers on each corner. The current owner is the Catalana Occidente insurance company.



If you look up towards the end of Paseo de Gracia, on the mountain, you will see another of our favorite buildings: the Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart, which is located in Plaza del Tibidabo, in Collserola. This work had to be finished by Sagnier’s son, given that its construction took almost 60 years, also suffering some damage due to the civil war. It is an imposing building surrounded by vegetation, with an eclectic style and an image of the Sacred Heart that presides over the dome.



Sagnier made many single-family and collective homes. One of the most fascinating that has been preserved to this day is Casa Arnús, which is located in the upper part of Barcelona, and which is visible from Ronda de Dalt and from Avenida Tibidabo. This house is a project carried out in 1900 for the doctor Manuel Arnús i Fortuny, who has family ties to Banca Arnús. With an appearance similar to that of a castle, it has a cross-shaped structure and a square and an octagonal tower. You can find it in Plaza del Dr. Andreu/ Calle Manuel Arnús.



Finally, if you are going to see the statue of Columbus or want to walk around the Maremagnum area, you will find the Nova Duana building very close by. The new customs office (Paseo de Josep Carner, 29) has an H-shaped floor plan and the initial idea is that goods enter and leave through opposite doors. It is impossible to ignore the monumentality and magnitude of the sculptures and auctions that crown this work. The central body is crowned by two large eagles, the work of the sculptor Eusebi Arnau, and at each end there are four griffins or winged lions.



If you want more information about the life and work of Sagnier, or perhaps take a book as a souvenir, we recommend two publications. The first is Sagnier by Candida Höfer. This is a large-format book that shows the architect’s work from the point of view of the prestigious interior photographer Cándida Höfer. The book is edited by Antonio Sagnier and directed by Ramón Úbeda and Pepa Reverter. It is distributed by Omega editions. Höfer’s photos in the empty buildings are incredible.



The second book was published in 2021 and is called Sagnier and the Modernists. It is a beautiful (and precise) book with photos by Marcela Grassi, edited by Antonio Sagnier and Fernando Villavecchia and directed by Ramón Úbeda, in which we can see what the profession of architecture was like in the years of Modernisme, by Sagnier and four professionals from the same period: Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Antoni Gaudí and his disciple Josep M. Jujol. The book is written by the journalist and great connoisseur of Barcelona chronicle Lluís Permanyer. We say that it is a precise book because it shows a lot of information about the trade at the time, as well as a chronology of the projects of these architects.


As you can see, Barcelona has a great architectural heritage beyond the Sagrada Familia. In a following post we will show a route to get to know modern and contemporary architecture, with buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe, Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Toyo Ito, Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue or those awarded the Pritzker 2017, the RCR Arquitectes studio. .


One of the most beautiful ways to tour this city is looking up, seeing the legacy that all these architects left, appreciating the tastes and styles of each era. All the buildings that we propose have access from public transport. We are waiting for you at Blanc Guest House to tell you all these stories about the architecture of Barcelona.