Like many residential gardens in Catalonia, the Portolà gardens are sheltered by a house at the back. A bay window/balcony, supported by solid-brick Solomonic columns, reinforces the communication between the residential part and the landscaped rear patio. It is a descending garden that follows the course of the markedly hilly C/ Claudi Sabadell, where there used to be a second entrance to the estate which is now closed, though the entrance stairs have been preserved.
Privacy is a safe bet here. As you go up on the C/ Claudi Sabadell escalator, used by dozens of people these days, you will sense the gardens’ luxuriance and presence from its boughs and palms, which can be seen from the street, while the gardens’ intimacy remains perfectly insulated from the glances of curious onlookers.
The space currently occupied by the house and the Portolà Gardens had been agricultural land, a vineyard, at the turn of the 18th century. It changed hands towards the end of the 19th century, becoming the property of Rosa de Portolà i Guinart (1821-1890), who was married to an important landowner, Casimir de Gomis i de Ros. She was evidently the person behind the opening of the streets surrounding the house and therefore the delimiting of the boundaries for house and gardens we know today.
This fine Modernista estate was put to many uses over the course of its history and was even the seat of Montseny’s largest university college, which had its own genuine secular cloister in its garden. It was an outdoor extension of a study desk, a corner for meditation and recreation. The estate the garden is set in is being restored to make the most of it as a social facility, so that it will be allocated for use by a third sector association.
Visitors to the gardens are greeted with flowerpots containing gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides). A mirador shaded by an orange tree (Citrus sinensis) looks onto the gardens below. Everything is framed by two palm trees (Phoenix canariensis). The first parterre, which is next to the bluish-painted lateral wall, offers Asiatic jasmine
(Trachelospermum asiaticum), lilyturf (Ophiopogon jaburan), groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), bugles (Ajuga reptans) and a large wild Osmanthus heterophyllus that looks very much like holly.
Visitors can walk down from there along small flights of steps made from solid rowlock bricks (with the bricks laid on their sides). They will find a pergola and a small square containing a fountain with a water jet and a ceramic glaze bench. The parterres display sweet bay (Laurus nobilis), medlars (Mespilus germanica), privet (Ligustrum lucidum) and African lilies (Agapanthus umbellatus).
Anyone descending alongside the fountain and the bench will see boxwood scrub (Buxus sempervirens) sculpted in the shape of shirt buttons and fruit trees. The other parterres have the same scheme of flowering plants covering them with lilies, groundsels and lilyturfs. A lattice at the end of the garden boasts a Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), an olive tree (Olea europaea), more medlars and a liquidambar
Art and Architecture
The building, constructed around 1910, has two separate structures. One is made up by a ground floor and two more storeys, the upper part standing out for its decoration. This higher part also has a view of the back garden and the roof opens up to the city like a bell-shaped flower. The house has another structure aligned with the street, with a ground floor and a single storey above that, joined to the other, taller structure.
The four walls of the latter rise up with hardly any decorative flourishes, with the exception of exposed brick and ceramic glaze that surround the building in horizontal strips and emboss the windows. The higher up, the richer the decoration. On the second storey the solid feel to the building is broken by a profusion of windows, rounded off with an arch, which encircle the four walls and light up the house on all sides. Ornamental coverings continue vertically up to the ceiling, which mimic a bell-shaped flower until they blend together with the eaves of the roof. The architectural effect is truly spectacular, as the plane of the facade seems to open up to the sky by converging convexly until it meets the roof’s tiles. Restoration work on the patio began in the spring of 2009.
- C Portolà, 5
- Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
- el Putxet i el Farró
- Public center
de l'1 de novembre
al 31 de març
Tots els dies
de 10:00 h a 19:00 h
Hora de tancament
aproximada, en funció de
l'horari solar (tanquen
quan es fa fosc, al capvespre)
de l'1 d'abril
al 31 d'octubre
Tots els dies
de 10:00 h a 21:00 h
- C Portolà, 5