El Capricho: Gaudí before he was famous

Gaudí is inextricably linked with Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean he never made his mark outside of Catalonia. One of the first buildings Gaudí ever designed was a summer house in Comillas, Cantabria. It’s the biggest attraction in the city these days.

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It was 1882 when the young Gaudí was commissioned to design the house for a friend, the first marquis of Comillas. He wanted a summer residence adjacent to his palace and named it ‘El Capricho’ – which means ‘the whim’ in English. And that’s exactly how the outside of the Gaudí building looks like: like one big whimsical spur of the moment. The village of Comillas, near Santander in Northern Spain, has made a real tourist attraction out of El Capricho (5 euro entrance per person) and because of that the interior has lost a bit of its magic here and there. But if you’re an Art Nouveau fan, you’ll still be pleasantly surprised. The whole style, inside and out, is so typical Gaudí: colorful, eclectic, playful and very unusual. It took three years to finish the project and today, you can rent the different spaces for events.


  • Glad to have found your site. Very interesting, esp for someone who associates Gaudi exclusively with Barcelona. I should make a trip here. Are there more in the area?

    • Nope, nothing else in Comillas apart from a gate designed by Gaudí, but it’s overgrown with flowers so you can’t see much of it. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Fantastic!!

  • Amazing! I am not familiar with this, but love the inside and its smooth lines and wood. I think the outside may take a bit of warming up on my part, but whimsical, to say the least.

  • We just returned from a trip to Barcelona where we visit Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and Palau Güell. His work is amazing and colorful. I love the flowing lines of his designs. I’d really like to visit El Capricho. It looks like a fairytale castle 🙂
    Your photos are great!

  • Thanks for sharing this interesting post. I am very interested in art nouveau . I had been to Eastern Europe twice and just came back from Prague and Budapest. The art nouveau Architecture I saw in Prague particularly is amazing. I have not been to Spain, which is on my wish list. I will keep an eye on these beautiful designs. I posted quite a few on Prague’s art nouveau on my arts blog last time. I haven’t yet started to work on my recent visit.


  • mags

    What a beautiful place! I would love to see it one day. Great photos too. Thanks for sharing!

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