Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Cantabria – Comillas and the El Capricho

Comillas is a small seaside town in Cantabria. The place is famous for its gorgeous beach, it offers a wide range of outdoor activities and has many buildings with important architecture. It also has one thing that brought me all the way here: one of the three buildings built from the plans of the master architect Antonio Gaudí that exist outside of Catalonia, the El Capricho.

El Capricho
This Arabesque building is an early work of Gaudi’s and is contemporary with Casa Vicens (see my blog about Casa Vicens here). He wasn’t actually the one who supervised the construction but directed the project from Barcelona, the on-site architect was Cristóbal Cascante.

As always, Gaudí wanted to adapt the new house to the characteristics of its master. In this case the commissioner was Máximo Díaz de Quijano, who was known for his love of plants. The house has a U shape that in the middle sheltered a greenhouse for the exotic plants the owner brought from far away places.

The outside of the house is decorated with naked bricks and sunflower tiles. An interesting feature is the tower that stands out in Comillas’ skyline.

Máximo’s other favourite pastime was music. This element is echoed in many places in the house, even the name which means ‘whim’ or ‘caprice’, suggests a playful tune. You can find decorations connected to music such as the sparrow on an organ or the ‘musical bench-balcony’.

The building from the inside.

It belongs to the story that the commissioner didn’t get the chance to live in his new summer chalet as he died of an illness before. Now the building stands empty and tourists visit it every day but it can also be hired for events.

El Cemeterio
By the time we finished and dropped our stuff in the hotel it was very late so we didn’t have time to look around in Comillas but the Cemetery (not the official one, of course) was on our way to the restaurant so we had a quick look inside.

The cemetery is situated in a hill in front of the sea therefore the view is great from its walls. Amongst the beautiful decorations are the ruins of an ancient gothic church. We didn’t stay long as it was getting dark but the place is well worth visiting.

And this was all we could see of Comillas. There are so much more things waiting to be discovered here, it truly is a lovely place. I have to add it to my already long list of  ‘places I have to visit again’.  

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