Modernisme Plaza of the City Hall of Valencia

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The Modernisme Plaza of the City Hall of Valencia was the transformation of the square of the City Hall of Valencia by Javier Goerlich in 1931 (instead the former that was the called "Bajada de San Francisco"), now in its site is the current Plaza of the City Hall and its fountain.

The Dr. Daniel Benito Goerlich (nephew of architect Goerlich Lleó), Professor of Art History and Curator of Cultural Heritage of the University of Valencia, assures that the reform of the 1930s "belongs to a very specific social context, and was destroyed a few years later in a completely different context, the repressive postwar, towards the "disaffected" to the political regime of the time." Benito Goerlich, is, curiously, nephew of architect Goerlich Lleó.

History of the square[edit]

The work of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento ended the previous "Bajada de San Francisco", so it was expropriations that caused expected unrest among the owners and neighbors; the subsequent Plaza and Parque de Emilio Castelar is part of the height of the architectural work of Goerlich Lleó starring purist, Art Deco and Modernisme styles. Which was destined to become the new civic center of the city, competing with the plazas de la Reina and de la Virgen, it was then carried out by a high and triangular platform; the corners, culminated with fountains, representing the three provinces of the region.

The square had the bad nickname tortada (caked), referring to the upper platform, and it mainly included two elements: the steps of classic style and Mercado de las Flores (Flower Market); the latter was an underground space, that inserted into the square itself, served for florists of the city sell their product. However, they were strongly opposed to be housed inside from the start; the space them was narrow and dark and, although it was a badge element to the square and the city, considered that supposed its "commercial ruin".

The architect[edit]

Photograph of Goerlich-Lleó family in which the young Javier Goerlich (architect that made the work) appears in the center, with guitar.

The architect behind the popular Plaza de Emilio Castelar was the son of the consul of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Javier Goerlich Lleó; this decisive man in the image of the city of Valencia signed buildings like the headquarters of Bank of Valencia, in addition to expanding streets and avenues among which stand de la Paz, Poeta querol or Barón de Cárcer. Among other buildings of major streets of the downtown, Goerlich Lleó replaced the old "Bajada de San Francisco" by this.

Destruction of this square[edit]

Finally, after years of disputes with florists to the front, they left in 1944 from underground. Just over a decade later the platform began to dismantle, to finally lose its appearance at different levels giving way to a flat space and demystified of all its baroque motifs. Shortly thereafter, the balcony of the City Hall of Valencia became a platform designed to preside over the military parades -work by Emilio Rieta and Román Jiménez- with a nondescript plaza and specially designed, according to the consulted historians, to carry out acts of falles traditMies van der Roheions; that is, able to accommodate a lot of people, host the mascletá and the falles of the City Hall.

The square -then "del Caudillo"- passed to house from 1962 the light fountain by Engineer Carlos Buigues and the equestrian statue of General Francisco Franco, designed by Valencian sculptor José Capuz and is currently located at the military base of Bétera; the Plaza of the City Hall of Valencia hosts few symbolic values for much of the year, beyond the buildings that surround it.

Criticism[edit]

However, the architecture shown by the "Goerlich reform" does not find favor among some Valencian architects. Rafael Rivera, municipal architect of Valencia during the 1980s and professor of urbanism at the School of Architecture of Valencia, considered "a horror the square" of Goerlich. "I read with surprise the comments on Facebook. People talk about the square with enthusiasm for the old, but not because it is something old of original form. In the 1930s Mies van der Rohe then was doing wonders for Europe and why the work only talks about the cultural poverty of the power and the bourgeoisie of that time in Valencia".[1]

This same Rivera stresses that "there is a total absence of the flowers and it bury the posts, something that makes no sense. However, the subsequent result not I think not commendable because it is conditioned by a single use (referring to the Falles). the plaza of the City Hall is part of an axis completely abandoned by the Valencians between La Estacioneta (Pont de Fusta) and the Estación del Norte".

This architect points out that, in addition, "people should think it would have been difficult for a public expression as the 15-M movement if had occurred in the modernisme square; that versatility also makes it modern, but lacks of distinctive elements to adds a statue to Francesc Vinatea, a character of second order pointless for a square of that importance".

References[edit]

Coordinates: 39°28′11″N 0°22′35″W / 39.4698°N 0.3764°W / 39.4698; -0.3764