The Palau Güell (Güell Palace) was the city home of architect and designer Antoni Gaudí’s greatest benefactor, Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi. Gaudí broke ground in 1886 and completed the grand home and all its furnishings, located on Nou de la Rambla in the Raval, in 1890. Among its decadences, the Palau Güell features a front façade wide enough for invited guests to enter in horse drawn carriages, twenty uniquely decorated chimneys and a high ceiling with small holes near the top where lanterns were hung at night from the outside to give the appearance of a starlit sky.
It remained a private residence for the family until 1936. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the Palau was confiscated and turned into a barracks. After the war, the Palau was in such a poor state of repair that its owner, Mercè Güell i López (the daughter of Eusebi Güell), donated the building to the state.
Today, it remains a staple on the Barcelona ‘Gaudí’ or ‘Modernista’ tour. The palace is, however, only partially opened for several years of intense study and restoration. As of March 2010, a partial tour includes the main façade, groundfloor and basement and is free of charge.