The portico and the façades

Since the time of the Neoclassical reforms, the Llotja has maintained a practically identical appearance: a detached quadrangular building delimited by the Pla del Palau, the Plaça d’Antoni López, the Passeig d’Isabel II and the Carrer dels Encants, now the Carrer del Consolat de Mar.

Formed by a ground floor and two upper floors, the construction is rigorously symmetrical and exquisitely proportioned. But behind this harmony lies a considerable effort made by the architect Joan Soler i Faneca to camouflage the preceding constructions.

In the 18th century, the principal façade was that of the Pla del Palau, and the second in importance was that of the Carrer dels Encants, which was wider and busier than in the present day. The seaward side of the building, where today there is the spacious Passeig d’Isabel II, looked onto the city’s sea wall, from which it was only separated by a narrow alleyway.

The portico was built as a projecting body of the building, presided over by ten Doric columns. Five vaults, three elliptical in the centre and two circular at the ends, have supported the first-floor terrace since then. The five arcades have pediments, triangular at the ends and centre, the other two being curved. The openings were shuttered with grilles and doors, creating a closed body. This meant that the elliptical domes and the sophisticated stereotomy work of the stone were concealed.

From the terrace, six Ionic columns rise up to support a solemn triangular pediment, which from 1802 to 1878 bore plaster reliefs with the portraits of Charles IV and Maria Luisa de Parma.

The tympanum of the pediment of the seaward façade bore a plaster replica of the coat of arms of the Board of Trade.