The Roman town of Astúrica Augusta was important in its day because it was located in a strategic area that was crossed by paths and powers. Six Roman roads passed through its streets, including the Silver Route, which connected the town to Mérida and Andalusia, and two sections of the Santiago trail, a pilgrimage route that also had commercial and political interests.
Astorga was already a Bishop's see from the Middle Ages and it remained so until the end of the 19th century. The Bishop's Palace burnt down in 1886, having functioned as such since 1120, the year in which Queen Urraca presented the building to the bishop at the time, Pelayo. After the fire, the then bishop, Joan Baptista Grau i Vallespinós, had the task of building it anew and so he approached his architect friend Antoni Gaudí, who was also from his hometown of Reus. Intermittent work began on the Palace in 1887 and this continued until 1893, when he stepped down from the project. Variations to the original design were introduced, especially on the roof.
Gaudí's work in the north of Spain (Comillas and León) corresponds to a time when he opted for an eclectic, historicist style. But it was also a style in which certain innovative solutions were already beginning to appear and this can be understood by the influence of Modernismo. The Bishop's Palace came to assume the form of a castle with neo-Medieval aesthetic flourishes in accordance with the Gothic cathedral adjoining it and the nearby walls enclosing the upper part of the town. The main gate contrasts with the building's austere façade and its playful use of shapes and arches made the Church reticent at first because it was not accustomed to such original work. The decoration inside the building is bursting with natural imagery and organic lines.
Gaudí's presence in the town left its mark in terms of his attempts to incorporate echoes of what modern architecture was starting to become; for example, his design of the middle-class home known as Casa Granell, by A. Palacios, which is renowned for its first-floor balcony. It is also worth mentioning the church of San Andrés, designed by Fernández Reyero, in which brick is incorporated into religious typology in a functional and ornamental way, which is more a feature of industrial architecture and thereby represents the experimental nature of the work.