The courtyard and the principal stairway

The complex formed by the courtyard and the principal stairway has been the most splendid part of the Llotja ever since the Neoclassical reform. The director of the restoration of the building, Joan Soler i Faneca, had to reduce the surface area of the garden to locate the stairway here. The result was a square enclosure eighteen metres long. In each wall he made three openings, the central one framed with Doric columns supporting the balconies of the main floor.

In the four corners of the courtyard he placed Ionic niches with sculptures representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Special attention must be given to the opening of the wing located just in front of the principal stairway, with the fountain of Neptune presiding majestically over the courtyard.

In the Encants wing, which now overlooks the Carrer del Consolat de Mar, of special interest are the lintels of two doorways, one leading to the Contracting Hall and one to the chapel, now disappeared. To the lintel of the first doorway a coat of arms of the Board of Trade was added, created by the sculptor Jeroni Mauri from a drawing by Pasqual Pere Moles.

All that remains of the chapel is the round arch which is now located on the main floor, in the present-day Assembly Hall. The lintel of the chapel doorway still conserves a coat of arms adorned with garlands tracing out the letters M and A, in reference to the name of the Mare de Déu, a work by Salvador Gurri.

The marble main stairway that connects the courtyard with the main floor was described as “magnificent and sumptuous” by the Baron of Maldà in 1802. The lower part of the stairway was constructed in a single section, and to preside over it two statues by Salvador Gurri were chosen, representing Commerce and Industry. The stairway then splits to left and right to reach the gallery that gives access to the rooms on the first floor, where there are three more balconies overlooking the courtyard. The six windows were adorned with lintels with profusely-worked reliefs, also by Gurri. For the closures of the central balconies, two reliefs with the coat of arms of the Board of Trade were chosen: the one on the right symbolises Science and the one on the left Industry. The reliefs in the gallery represent Agriculture, on the right, and Maritime Trade, on the left.