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The building, which is occupied today by the Biblioteca Valenciana, is the result of a construction labour that has been carried out in different times: a Muslim farmhouse
in the 11th century, a Cistercian monastery in the 14th, a Hieronymite
monastery in the 16th and a prison in the 19th century.
Tuesdays: at 10, 11 and 12; Saturdays and Sundays at 12 and 13.
Monday to Friday: 9 to 20.30; Saturdays: 9 to 13.30.
Bus: 11, 16 and 36. Tramway T6
Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes History
SAN BERNARDO DE RASCAÑA (1381 -1546)
Upon the remains of the 1lth 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.
SAN MIGUEL DE LOS REYES (1546 -1835)
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.
PRISON OF SAN MIGUEL DE LOS REYES (1874 -1966)
During the process of vast property sales by the Church in the 19th century, the building landed in the hands of the state, which dedicated it to various uses until 1869, when it was finally decided to use it as a prison. After 1936 it housed political prisoners condemned to death, first under the control of the Republic and later under the regime of Franco. To adapt the building to its new role as prison, two new pavilions in the northern patio were constructed and the rest was adapted by removing walls, cells and vaults. In 1962 the property passed to the hands of the municipal government and the Diputacion de Valencia, closing the prison in 1966.
BIBLIOTECA VALENCIANA (since 1999)
After 1966 the building was used alternatively as a school and as a storehouse for items requisitioned by the municipal government of Valencia. Then, in 1995, a restoration process began with the purpose of converting the building into the site of the Biblioteca Valenciana. The process, culminating in 1999, revealed marks left by the building's various historical periods which are now visible to the visitor.
The institution itself was formed in 1985 and functions as the National Library for
the Community of Valencia. As such, its mission consists in collecting, conserving and disseminating Valencian bibliographic heritage. Since 1983 the library also performs the duties of the Legal Deposit of the Community of Valencia, which is to say it archives a copy of all the audiovisual and bibliographic works of the Community. Its installations are capable of storing up to two million individual documents.