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  • La Nau, centre cultural

17th and 18th  CenturiesPlan of university library façade. Joaquín Martínez, 1790 

 Plan of university library façade. Joaquín Martínez, 1790

The most important building development in the University in the seventeenth century was the construction of the new main entrance to replace the original one, located in front of the chapel in the Plaza del Patriarca, “facing the bakery that has a door in the courtyard” (Orellana).

The archbishop Juan de Ribera obtained an order from the municipal Council to have the original main door removed and permanently walled up, and paid for a new entrance to be built that gave on to University Street and “was considered the sole main entrance, with a large coat of arms of the City carved in stone above the entrance”. During the eighteenth century this was the entrance used by the San Carlos Royal Academy, which was located in that part of the building at the time. When the Academy moved out the coat of arms went with it, and is now above the main entrance to the San Pío V Museum of Fine Arts.

New halls of residence contributed to create a university atmosphere in the district. The first of them to be built was la Presentación, endowed in 1550 by the archbishop Tomás de Villanueva to enable ten poor people to study for the priesthood. There were also two halls of residence with private patronage, la Asunción or Na Monforte (1561), and la Purificación or de Rodríguez (1572) that were for theologists. The best equipped of them all was the Corpus Christi hall, founded in 1594 by Juan de Ribera. King Felipe II ordered the San Jorge hall to be built in 1563 for members of the Montesa religious order, and doctor Melchor de Villena had the Santos Reyes hall built (1643) for theology and medical students.


At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the desire to embellish the building and increase the institution’s prestige led to some important improvements in the rectory, the university theatre and the chapel, which were contemporaneous with the historic Report on the foundation and progress of the distinguished University of Valencia (1730) published by the rector Francisco Ortí, the first historian of the university, and the new 1733 Constitutions. Lecture theatre plan by Felipe Rubio, 1732

 The university theatre, where Faculty meetings and solemn discussions were held, was adapted and enlarged after purchasing some adjacent market gardens from Fernando Bonavida. The plan was designed by Felipe Rubio in 1733 and gave the theatre a double entrance from the rectoral courtyard. The grand partitioned vault, reinforced by a series of arches supported by powerful buttresses, was decorated with painted mouldings and the walls were hung with portraits and inscriptions of important people.

 

 Lecture theatre plan by Felipe Rubio, 1732

 The chapel was enlarged and rebuilt in classicist style by Miguel Martínez and caused the admiration of the chronicler Exclapés, who wrote: “finished on the 15th of October 1737, the chapel is a precious pearl, and sheltering on its altar the Soberana Aurora de la Sapiencia1, becomes more majestic and excellent”. (Historic summary of the foundation and antiquity of Valencia, 1738.)

  Detall of the plan designed by Vicente Tosca (1738), showing the urban environment around the Estudi General

Detall of the plan designed by Vicente Tosca (1738), showing the urban environment around the Estudi General

 

 
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