Block of Discord
Three interpretations of modernist architecture
The so-called Manzana de la Discordia – the Block of Discord – is the most famous collection of modernist buildings sharing the same facade in Barcelona. This is the block located in Passeig de Gràcia between calle Aragó and calle Consell de Cent, and it is a fine display of the contrasts between the different architectural trends of the day.
At number 35 is Casa Lleò Morera, designed by Domènech i Montaner; a little further along you come across Casa Amatller, designed by Puig i Cadafalch; and finally, Casa Batlló, a work byGaudí.
The term Apple of Discord, or Manzana de la Discordia in Spanish, originates from the wedding between Peleus and Thetis in Greek mythology. All of the gods were invited to the wedding with the exception of Eris, the goddess of discord. Despite this, Eris arrived at the wedding bearing a gift of a golden apple inscribed with the word kallisti, “for the fairest”. Many of the goddesses fought to claim the apple, but Zeus brought an end to the violence by ordering Paris, the Prince of Troy, to select the fairest goddess. Paris eventually offered the apple to Aphrodite.
There are a number of similarities between this episode in Greek mythology and the existing rivalry among modernist architects and, in fact, the rivalry among their patrons to have the fairest building on the block on Passeig de Gràcia. As the word manzana can mean both city block and apple in Spanish, further parallels can be drawn between the Greek myth and Barcelona’s architecture.