Situated in south-eastern
Catalonia, Reus is the region's major commercial and cultural centre.
During the eighteenth century, it was the international point of
reference for the brandy trade (hence the saying 'Reus, Paris, and
London'), and as such became Catalonia's second city. With the advent of
the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century, the city underwent
a boom, fuelled by the textile industry.
The emergent middle classes, emulating the great capitals of Europe,
transformed the face of the city by creating the infrastructure vital to
its development. It was as part of this process that during the end of
the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, Reus was
redesigned in the most avant-garde style of the day: Modernism. This new
artistic trend established itself in every domain (art, literature,
decoration), but particularly architecture.
New buildings were put up: luxurious private houses, weekend/holiday
homes, blocks of flats, factories, shops, and public buildings. Oddly,
although Reus is Antoni Gaudí's home town, it boasts no example of his
work. The fines Modernist creations are by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. In
1897, Domènech began work on a psychiatric hospital, the Pere Mata
Institute (1897-1912), which is one of the most remarkable set of
buildings in the Modernist style. He later designed the Casa Navàs
(1901-7), the Casa Rull (1900), and the Casa Gasull (1911). Domènech
tried out a number of new architectural approaches in Reus, and, as a
result, the city boasts the greatest number of buildings by him after
Domènech i Montaner served as a role-model for other local architects
who helped fuel the city's creative vitality at this time. These
included Pere Caselles, who designed most of the Modernist buildings in
Reus, and Joan Rubió i Bellver, a pupil of Antoni Gaudí.