One of the joys of wandering the streets of Barcelona is to suddenly stumble upon gorgeous art nouveau buildings sitting smack in the middle of nondescript shop fronts. The Antigua Casa Figueras is one such gem.
Located halfway down the Rambla, this former pasta factory was built in 1820 and decorated by modernist artist Antoni Ros i Guell in 1902. Occupied since 1986 by a branch of the Pasteleria Escriba, the Casa Figueres is as elaborately decorated as some of the decadent creations of fourth generation pastry artist, Christian Escriba.
The trencadis (mosaic) on the facade and the wrought iron and stained glass windows are exquisite as are the restored interiors. The biggest challenge here is to get a clear shot of the building through the throngs of tourists on the Rambla! The ones oblivious to this beauty, as well as those so enamoured by it that they will not budge from in front, for what seems like hours.
Embedded into the sidewalk outside the entrance is a metal plaque embossed with symbols of various trades. We had seen such plaques across the city and learnt that they are awarded as recognition to businesses that have been in the service of the city – and run by the same family – for more than a 100 years! They are engraved with the name of the establishment, date of inception, and the date the plaque was awarded.
I still haven’t figured out why the dates don’t tally. Seems to suggest a collaboration between the Figueras and Escriba families in 1986. Christian’s grandfather (the first Mr. Escriba) himself was the son-in-law of the original founder and his maternal grandfather, the renowned French confectioner Etienne Tholoniat. With antecedents like that, we had no doubt that the contents of this pasteleria would be as pleasing to the senses as its beautiful exterior. I can vouch for the fact that they indeed were!