Military occupation

The year 1714 was a key date in the process of degradation of the Llotja that had begun a century earlier. The Bourbon troops, commanded by the Duke of Berwick, entered Barcelona on September 11th. King Philip V ordered the demolition of 1,200 houses in the Ribera neighbourhood to build the Ciutadella fortress, and took over the Llotja to turn it into a barracks. The army engineer Alexandre de Rez took charge of the alterations.

The Llotja was occupied in its entirety. The upper floors were conditioned to accommodate the soldiers, and to give access to them an external staircase was built in the Orange-Tree Courtyard. The kitchens were installed in the ground floor of the Renaissance-style portico. The Contracting Hall and the collateral nave were used as stores for grain and other supplies, and in the Pla del Palau square, adjoining the outer wall of the Llotja, a guardhouse was built. All of these actions had a negative effect on the building.

The Decree of “Nueva Planta” (“New Constitution”), promulgated by Philip V in 1716, while suppressing Catalonia’s political and legal systems and imposing those of Castile, allowed for the continuity of the Sea Consulate, but abolished its right to levy the pierage tax on all goods loaded and unloaded in the port of Barcelona. As a result, the Consulate found itself homeless – the Llotja being occupied and badly damaged – and stripped of its principal source of income. For Barcelona’s merchant class, this loss of its economic resources and its most emblematic building meant the disappearance of the prestige it had enjoyed in former times.