The Venue

Upon the remains of the 11th century Muslim farmhouse of Rascaña, the abbots of the monastery of Santa Maria de Valldigna founded a small convent, constructed of humble materials and originally housing twelve monks and their prior. The building was constituted by a church with a single nave, lateral chapels and two cloisters, around which grouped the monks’ dormitory, the refectory, the kitchens, etc. The remains of these structures were found during excavations in 1996 in the northern patio. They were consequently restored and consolidated.

The duke and duchess of Calabria, Fernando de Aragon and Germana de Foix, founded this Hieronymite monastery in 1546 to serve as their family crypt. They charged the construction of the new building – formed by two cloisters and a church – to the architect Antonio de Covarrubias. The southern cloister’s construction began in 1546 and was completed by 1607. The rooms for communal use were on the first floor of the cloister; the monks’ cells on the second floor; above, the rooms of the novices. The prior occupied the southwest tower. This constitutes one of the most important architectural works of the Renaissance in Valencian lands.

The new church was constructed between 1623 and 1644 in the location of the old church of San Bernardo. It is characterized by its floor-stamp in the form of the Latin Cross: a raised dome in the crossing, a high chorus featuring a downward facing clock in the vault, and chapels flanked by buttresses. In the 17th century the old wooden altarpieces were substituted for those which we contemplate today: baroque pieces decorated with a marquetry of marble, jasper, alabaster and Alcublas stone. Below the main altar lie the remains of Don Fernando and Doña Germana.

The front of the church is a facade-altarpiece divided into three parts and adorned with images that indicate the church’s relationships with the Hieronymite order and with its own founders. In 1756 it was decided to replace the older Cistercian cloister by a new one built after the model of the extant southern cloister. This construction was interrupted in 1802 and has since then remained incomplete.

Today the building houses the historical collection of the Valencian Library Nicolau Primitiu.