The solemnity of the Llotja

The inauguration of the new Llotja took place in the autumn of 1802, on the occasion of the celebration in Barcelona of the weddings of two of the children of King Charles IV, Ferdinand and Maria Isabel. The splendid building was the setting for many of the activities held in honour of the monarchs, and also served as the residence of the Prime Minister, Manuel de Godoy, during the festivities.

Ferdinand VII also visited Barcelona in 1828, and the Board of Trade honoured him with a masked ball in the Contracting Hall. The following year, a great celebration was held for the King and Queen of Naples and Sicily and their daughter Maria Cristina, Ferdinand’s future wife. On this occasion the courtyard of the Llotja was illuminated with gas lamps for the first time. In 1840, the Board organised an exhibition of art works and industrial products to receive Queen Isabel II. And in 1904, on the occasion of a visit by King Alphonse XIII, nine large cast-iron lamps were commissioned; they remained hanging from the ceiling of the Contracting Hall until the year 2002.

The Llotja was also a prime witness to a number of events in the tumultuous political life of Catalonia and Spain in the 19th century. The liberal Constitution of 1820, the Royal Statute of 1834 and the Constitution of 1836 were all proclaimed from terrace of the building. During the revolution of 1868, the Llotja was occupied by the rebel population, which caused considerable destruction. And in 1885, a number of the country’s leading personalities debated and approved here the Memoria en defensa de los intereses morales y materiales de Cataluña, better known as the Memorial de greuges (“Memorandum of Grievances”).

The disappearance in 1847 of the Royal Board of Trade of Barcelona led to the progressive deterioration of the building. In 1869 the Barcelona Provincial Council took over the administration of the building and progressively ceded its halls to entities and institutions like the Royal Association of Exchange Brokers, the Association of Shipowners and Shipping Agents, the Provincial Council of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, the Board of Works of the Port, the Provincial Board of Health and Welfare, the School of Navigation, the School and Academy of Fine Arts, the Cereals Market and the Stock Exchange.