The Contracting Hall

The Contracting Hall, which formed part of the original Gothic structure of the Llotja, had to be remodelled to integrate harmoniously into the exterior symmetry of the Neoclassical building.

The Gothic windows of the façade of the portico and the façade that communicates the hall with the courtyard and the principal stairway were replaced by new openings. At the end of the 18th century, the architect Joan Soler i Faneca carried out an ingenious task to make the doors square with the regular, symmetrical vaults of the portico. He applied the same criterion to the wall of the hall overlooking the courtyard, but on this occasion the solution was very forced, especially in the bay – the space comprised between two load-bearing walls – corresponding to the area underneath the principal stairway, to make the door coincide with the central axis of the courtyard.

Another characteristic element that has featured in the Contracting Hall since that time is the perimeter balcony at the height of the first floor, which gives access to the balconies of the Encants façade (overlooking what is now the Carrer del Consolat de Mar) and to the terrace above the portico.

The four stone walls that close the Contracting Hall were also modified with the Neoclassical remodelling of the Llotja. Soler i Faneca made use of three of the walls, which he covered with new masonry, replaced the wall overlooking the Carrer dels Encants, which was in a very poor state, and restored one of the bays, the one closest to the Encants wall. This, which was the main façade of the Gothic Llotja, had collapsed in 1708 and was repaired, but very superficially it seems, because by the end of the 18th century it was considerably deteriorated and could not be used for the new building.

The closure walls of the Contracting Hall were, and still are, remarkably thick, in order to absorb the thrust of the arcades, and this gave rise to the popular saying “You’ve got a cheek thicker than the walls of the Llotja.” For the floor, a chessboard pattern of black and white Carrara marble was laid. In fact, the use of marble was constant in the Neoclassical remodelling process.