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  • La Nau, centre cultural

Building without offending proper decorum              

Protrait fo Pérez Bayer, University  of Valencia, assembly hall                                   Protrait fo Pérez Bayer, University of Valencia, assembly hall

When the San Carlos Royal Academy of Fine Arts was established in the angle formed by Salvá and la Universidad streets in 1765 the facilites were remodelled by the architect Vicente Gascó and the façade was brought into line. Shortly afterwards, the need to adapt the building to the new demands of enlightened reformism required different works. In 1788 a neighbouring house and munitions furnace in la Universidad street were purchased to build more lecture rooms, according to plans designed by Antonio Perales. But a chemical laboratory and an astronomical observatory above it, commissioned in 1790 by the rector Blasco to José Pérez, were not materialized.

The most important construction of the period was undoubtedly the library, for which new land was bought on the corner of la Universidad and la Nave streets. The plan was designed in 1789 by Joaquín Martínez, one of the most significant architects of Valencian neoclassicism. The plain and sober construction followed the monumental style of the Enlightenment for public buildings, and was not finished until 1795. There were six spacious lecture rooms on the ground floor and the main floor, “a large and magnificent hall”, was occupied by the splendid donation made by the scholar and bibliophile Francisco Pérez Bayer, who had promised “to fill it with exquisite books and other curiosities”.

It was presided over by a bust of Bayer himself on a jasper and bronze pedestal by José Esteve. At the beginning of 1812 Valencia was bombarded during the siege by Napoleon’s troops under Marshall Suchet, causing the destruction of a large part of the university building. On January 7 the library was burnt down and the books were reduced to ashes. As the fire grew stronger, “professors, students and workers struggled to save whatever they could” (Fernando Llorca).

 

 

 

 
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