Just 20 minutes from Salou, Reus is one of the great epicentres of modernism. It has its own Modernism Route that you can’t miss it!
Catalan modernism, or Modernisme in Catalan, is a cultural movement which appeared at the end of the 19th century, around the time of the Industrial Revolution. While it has a lot in common with other cultural movements of the period, such as Art Nouveau, it is also greatly tied to the specific context of Catalonia at this time. If each architect developed their own particular style, some common traits of Catalan modernism include a preference for asymmetrical shapes and those which replicate the natural world; curved lines are preferred to straight lines. Nature, too, is a source of inspiration in terms of the themes which can be found in the details of facades, murals and features such as windows and balconies: leaves, trees, flowers and animals are most common. Altogether, Modernisme is highly ornate, with much focus on aesthetic details.
Reus’ Modernista Route is well marked out, and all the relevant buildings bear a plaque; a leaflet is available with the route and information from the Tourist Office on Plaça Mercadal. This emblematic square, is, in fact, the ideal place to begin the tour.
You can start with a view of the magnificent Casa Navàs, a beautiful house designed by Domènech i Montaner, which today you’ll admire from the outside in preparation for tomorrow’s visit when you’ll take a guided tour of the interior (must be booked beforehand at the tourist office). However, today you can go into the fabrics shop on the bottom floor, which was also designed by Domènech i Montaner and which still contains the original fittings and maintains the style of an early 20th-century business.
The elegance of his personal style can be admired in buildings such as Casa Rull or Casa Gasull. His most outstanding work in Reus is the Pere Mata Institute, the city’s psychiatric hospital. Divided into pavilions surrounded by gardens, it still retains its original decoration in the Pavilion of the Distinguished, the only one that can be visited nowadays.