Refurbishment

The Monastery of Sant Jeroni de Cotalba is a large-scale monument: 14,500 m2 built in a walled area of 64,000 m2.

The Monastery of Sant Jeroni de Cotalba is a large-scale monument (14,500 m2 built in a walled area of 64,000 m2) which requires constant preservation, refurbishment and restoration by the owner family and whose primary objective is the comprehensive refurbishment of the monastery.

Since its acquisition by the Trenor family in 1845, after the confiscation of Mendizabal, the monastery has undergone multiple improvements and constant refurbishment and preservation works, without which the monument would not have reached the present day in the optimal preservation conditions in which it can be seen nowadays.

One fact that helps better appreciate and understand the extent of the continuous preservation efforts in the monument is that it is currently one of the few monasteries in all the Valencian Community, affected by the confiscation of Mendizabal, which has never needed to undergo the complete or partial reconstruction of any of its rooms at any time in its history. This is so much so that the original architecture of each room of the monastery can be observed nowadays as it was designed, without any current reconstruction or reinterpretation.

Nowadays the monastery carries out the processing, implementation and development of various architectural comprehensive action plans for the gradual and successive refurbishment of the sectors and rooms of the monastery which require future interventions for their proper preservation.

All refurbishment plans are directed and coordinated by the architect Mr. José Manuel Barrera Puigdollers, tenured professor at the Universidad Politécnica of Valencia, in coordination with the Valencia Regional Government’s Culture Council and Alfauir City Hall.

Some of these plans are currently in the implementation phase and are scheduled to continue being implemented in the years to come, in different phases established by order of priority.

These action plans are the following:

Special Land Use and Monastery Protection Plan

(2015-2016, being processed). The special protection plan (SPP) document is included in the catalog, the protection data sheets, the source screening, the archeology conducted at the same time and the historical recomposition books of the monastery made from these data. This special plan is broken down into:

  • Stabilization and urgent action analysis, which is broken down into: Structural stabilization and reinforcement project in the South and East areas of the monastery. (2016-2018, ongoing). It is divided into three actions: stabilization of the Arma Christi section (ongoing), stabilization of the current chapel of the Virgin of Health (planned), which was previously the chapterhouse, and stabilization of the church choir (planned). All these plans are already authorized by the Culture Council.
  • Restoration project of the northern sections of the monastery: Silk building or new hospital of 1724, Muslim tower, old mill, portico of the poor, chapel and mill stores. Plans informed by the Culture Council with this sequence.

The most important refurbishment, restoration, preservation and construction actions carried out in the monastery since its foundation until now are detailed below, in descending chronological order:

Chronological statement of the refurbishment and preservation of the monastery

  • 2019-2020: Intervention in the chapel of the Virgin of Health for its stabilization; intervention in the choir and the upper roof section, for the stabilization of the church. Restoration of the building of the new hospital of 1724 and Muslim tower, (all these actions are already reported by the Culture Council).
  • 2019: Adaptation and openness to the public of the ancient library of the monastery.
  • 2018-2019: Implementation of the Stabilization Phase I. Refurbishment of the rear stairway section leading to the “Arma Christi” so that it can be open to visits in 2019. This is partially subsidized by the Culture Council in collaboration with Alfauir City Hall.
  • 2017-2018: Writing of development projects of the Special Protection Pan (SPP) of the monastery for their implementation in phases in all the sectors and rooms that require a future intervention of their correct preservation.
  • 2016: Location and archaeological salvage of the main crypts of the monastery; discovery and archaeological salvage of the crypt of the family of Ausiàs March, with archaeological study and adaptation to visits. Discovery and archaeological salvage of the crypt of the central chapter of the church. All the above has the authorization and monitoring of the Culture Council.
  • 2015-2016: Conditioning of the church floor in order to adapt it as an interpretation center, visitor reception and culture hall, with the help from the Agencia Valenciana de Turisme (Valencian Tourism Agency) in collaboration with Alfauir City Hall. Side chapels, which were walled up before then, are opened, and copies of the paintings of Friar Nicolás Borrás, which come from the Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia, are placed in their original location.
  • 2015: Adaptation of the upper cloister and the hall of arms in order to open them to visits. These rooms are inaugurated and opened to the public in May 2015.
  • 2014-2015: Comprehensive refurbishment of the structural body of the prior’s tower, with the assistance of Valencia Council and Alfauir City Hall. The tower is located in the southwest end, next to the agricultural pool and the romantic gardens, at the west side of the monastery.
  • 2014: Adaptation and conditioning of the refectory in order to open it to the public. The room is open to visits in June 2014.
  • 2008: Refurbishment of the grain storehouse or “garrofera room” section to lodge the projection and interpretation room of the monastery, with the assistance of the Directorate-General of Inland Tourism of the Valencia Regional Government’s Tourism Council and Alfauir City Hall.
  • 2005: Authorization of May 26, 2005 of the public visits regime by the Culture Council. The monastery is open to visits in May 2005 through an agreement with the Valencia Regional Government’s Culture Council.
  • 2004: Adaptation project of the visiting areas of the monastery, led by the architect María Domínguez Calabuig. Adaptation, signaling, safety and lighting works in order to open the monastery to the public. Refurbishment of the access to the olive mill from the chapterhouse in order to open it to visits.
  • Years 1998-2001: Implementation of trial pit excavations in the subsoil of the church by the Valencia Regional Government’s Culture Council, completed in September 2001.
  • 1994: The monastery is declared Asset of Cultural Interest (Bien de Interés Cultural, BIC) on May 24, 1994 through the decree 93/1994 of Valencia Council.
  • 1960: The refurbishment and preservation of the aqueduct, Gothic section of the northeast end of the monastery, is performed in this decade. Completion of the fountains that decorate the central pool for water storage of the orange tree patio and the wrought iron coffering of the well, in the same patio.
  • 1940-1950: Refurbishment of the monastery after the Spanish Civil War, when it was used as a military hospital, creating different damage in the entire building. The main actions were the restoration of the lower cloister, which had been seriously damaged, reverting it to the original state and eliminating the walled windows in order to use it as hospital rooms. The doors with wooden coffering in many of the rooms were stored and the monastery was furnished again, as a good share of the paintings and furniture that decorated it disappeared during the war.
    1910: The romantic gardens, the artificial lake and significant improvements inside the monastery, such as the closing of the entire upper cloister with windows in order to better preserve the cloister itself and its Gothic and Renaissance sculptures, leaving it completely protected from the outside, are built in this decade. The current chapel of the Virgin of Health was also repaired in Neogothic style.
    1900: Damages in the church were repaired and the roof of the presbytery was modified in this decade. The channelings and water networks were modernized.
  • 1890: During this decade, the old chapel of the Virgin of Health and the main chapel caught fire and were destroyed, as a consequence of a lightning, demolishing and damaging the church presbytery.
  • 1880-1881: Restoration of the arcade of the aqueduct by Federico Trenor y Bucelli.
  • 1846: Acquisition of the monastery, the annexed lands and the water rights by Tomás Trenor Keating. Refurbishment of the monastery after it was acquired by the Trenor family.
  • Other historical constructive actions (data extracted from Chapter Acts)
    1820: First secularization of the monastery. An inventory of assets and effects is made. Building of walls for the novitiate bedroom, in the upper east gallery, 4th level.
  • 1819: News about the works in the novitiate.
  • 1815: The stained glass windows for the prior’s cell and the refectory are made.
  • 1795: The connected portico of the orange tree patio is added to the original facade of the 17th Century, and it is formed with segmental arches and eliminating the upper terrace, which is covered to form this patio.
  • 1790: Authorization to carry out works in five cells.
  • 1786: Washbasin of the refectory.
  • 1787: Addition to the prior’s cell. Extension of cavalry accesses. Main gate in the
    Porthole of the north end, leading to the path.
  • 1782: Placement of the flooring of the upper cloister and engraving of the fleurons of the arches.
  • 1777: Reduction of the grandstands of the presbytery to widen the access to the side chapel of the Virgin of Health.
  • 1776: Brick paving of the refectory.
  • 1773: Refurbishment of the refectory and the choir of the church made by Italian monks. Enlargement of a high bay of the choir.
  • 1768: Construction of a cell next to the prior’s cell, which was previously Father Castillo’s cell.
  • 1765: Move of the wine press under procurement.
  • 1762: Demolition of vaults and change of roofs in the church, which are risen from 13.5 m to 19.73 m.
  • 1758: Building of the main chapel next to the Virgin of Health.
  • 1753: Building of the chapel of the Virgin of Health in the south-east patio.
  • 1744‐1755: Reconstruction of the cloister in the north gallery in ruins.
  • 1745: Strong earthquake which ruins part of the building, causing damages in the church, the main tower and in the upper vault, from which the first thread is detached.
  • 1739: Extension of the cells in the prior’s tower and adjacent spaces. Building of the new novitiate. Demolition of the stairway that leads to the barn. Prior’s cell on the old infirmary. Extension of the cells above the terrace (space under the roof of the west wing).
  • 1737: Rising of the east section to build cells. (4th level).
  • 1731: Building of the prior’s cell in the first floor of the prior’s tower.
  • 1730: Building of Father Infante’s cell.
  • 1724: Demolition of the old inner hospital and start of its construction in the north section.
  • 1712: Rising of the mill to store silk.
  • 1711: Rising of the roof of the oil mill.
  • 1683‐1704: It is ordered to start with the upper cloisters, north and west gallery, with minor works, but adding certain baroque style and then adapting it to the neoclassical style. The paintings of pretend brick which are present in the entire building, and are now hidden by covering paintings, may date back to these years.
  • 1703: Works in the storehouse and the olive mill.
  • 1702: Placement of an octagonal pillar in the current olive mill due to the ruin of the upper vaults. The reinforcement of the parallel arches with pilasters is probably from this date.
  • 1701: Rising and extension of the oven and mill of the portico of the poor.
  • 1693: Work in the cloister of the Brothers of the School; north gallery.
  • 1691: Covering of cloisters, which were of hollow fabric.
  • 1689: Building of the retrochoir and the main chapel, now demolished, by Francisco Padilla.
  • 1683‐1698: Building of the church atrium as a buttress.
  • 1644: Strong earthquake which destroys part of the building.
  • 1639: Strong earthquake in the area, which destroys different parts of the monastery.
  • 1578: Placement of the altarpiece of father Friar Nicholas Borrás with the current apse as background.
  • 1515‐1520: Start of the transformation of the polygonal apse to the current apse, by increasing the height of the apse. Building of perimeter lighting arcade (5+7+5).
  • 1504-1510: Building of the renaissance upper cloister, east gallery. (Pere Compte, Joan Corbera and Francesc Baldomar). Markings: cylindrical intersecting dowels in the upper part of the frame; spiral in the capital, small ornamental nails (Pere Compte’s hallmark), and disassembly of the section of side curtains, which match the curtains in the Gandia Collegiate, Cotalba Collegiate and the Palace of Valencia Regional Government. Marking of the stonemason in the left angel of the Arma Christi gateway.
  • 1505: Substantial donations of the Duchess of Gandia, María Enríquez de Luna. The upper cloister in the south and east part is completed, and the cistern of the monastery in the orange tree patio is built.
  • 1499: Economic contribution from Friar Cristóbal de Gradi so that the works in the refectory are completed in six years.
  • 1497: Building of the Gothic upper cloister, south gallery.
  • 1491: Completion of the works in the Gothic aqueduct of the monastery.
  • 1485: Start of the works in the Gothic aqueduct of the monastery from the Batlamala spring.
  • 1399: Building of a pool for water collection from Canelles spring in the south area, next to the current battlemented wall of the access plaza.
  • 1388: License from the bishop of Valencia to move the monastery from Plana de Xàbia to Cotalba. Payment of the lands to the Moors who lived in them. Start of the works by building a small adjacent monastery. There is a previous license from the Bishop of Gata in the year 1385.

Before 1385, which is when Father Friar Francisco Castillo narrated that Alfonso the Old built a small and modest temporary monastery to house the friars coming from Xàbia, while the main monastery was built, the settlement of Cotalba or Tossalet de Cotalba already existed. This temporary monastery still exists partially inside the complex of the Muslim settlement.

The origin of this settlement was a Roman settlement, which later became a small Moorish village, with its own Alcazaba fortress and residential buildings for noble people.

These buildings were partly used; therefore, they were integrated in the building of the monastery. These buildings are:

  • Moorish baths under the orange tree patio.
  • Moorish tower at the north-east end.
  • Moorish tower of the kitchen at the back.
  • Section of the hall of arms belonging to an ancient noble house.
  • Fortified tower at the north-east end.
  • Side Muslim settlement, Alfauir tower, washing place, pens and residential buildings.
  • Traces of the aqueduct of this time.
  • Tower connected to the aqueduct, used as a slaughterhouse.