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La Nau Building - Building a house of knowledge


Building a house of Knowledge

A contract was signed with builder Pere Compte and Pere Bernia for the construction of the Estudi General, 1498


The Municipal Council of Valencia did not undertake the construction of a new building for the Estudi General but simply adapted and improved some buildings it had purchased. A house with kitchen gardens had been bought from Isabel Saranyó on April 1 1493, which gave on to the streets currently named la Nave, de la Universidad and de Salvá and had a small square at the main entrance. Pere Compte was commissioned to adapt this building with the help of the “town builder master Martí”.

A new stage of construction began on August 16 1498 when Pere Compte and Pere Bernia signed a contract with the City General Council, who two days before had formalised their intention to renovate the “house of study” and to provide the Estudi General with “Constitutions” or statutes. The renovation was to be carried out according to a highly detailed reform and extension plan included in the document. In May 1499 the archbishop blessed and formally opened the Estudi General building, and in the following years the Council purchased more houses to extend the site while the building works continued.

In the last two decades of the fifteenth century until his death in 1505, the architect Pere Compte took part in the most outstanding constructions in the city of Valencia – Lonja, Cathedral, Generalitat, Cathedral extension, etc. Pere Bernia, “town builder”, was awarded the title of “mestre de la ciutat” for his work as director of many municipal works, including the gateways of the new city walls, the corn exchange and other water-piping works.

A corridor with a parapet led to the main halls of the Estudi General building, which were grouped around a central courtyard with a porticoed upper floor. Another small courtyard at the back of the building was used as a service area.

Some parts were made of masonry, including the arch over the entrance, similar to those found in fine houses of the period, and five arches on the ground floor. The main staircase may have been attached to one side of the patio and also made of stonework. However, the seat of the University of Valencia has been through so many vicissitudes in its history that it is not possible to identify the remains of the early construction with certainty, except perhaps for what can be seen from the excavations in the ground floor of the library.


La Nau Building

La Nau chronology

Foundation of the "Estudi General"

Building a house of knowledge

17th and 18th Centuries

"Building without offending proper decorum"

Reconstruction, symmetry and unity

The University as a living monument

Cultural Project  


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