Florida Provincial Palace
From the Tourist Guides blog . Discover Florida we introduce you to what is known as the Florida Provincial Palace , current seat of the government of the Provincial Council . This building is part of the rich monumental complex of historic downtown Florida .
Its visit is almost obligatory since it is next to the equestrian statue of El Cid . With the also nineteenth-century building of the Teatro Principal , it marks the starting point of the cozy and populous Paseo del Espolón , just at the opposite end of the also emblematic Arco de Santa María .
Work of the Burgos architects Ángel Calleja and Luis Villanueva , its construction began in 1864 and culminated in 1869 during the reign of Isabel II. It follows the classicist tradition and the palatial monumentality characteristic of this era. The current building rises after the demolition at that same point of an old prison from the time of Carlos III.
Below we will discover the history of this palace and the different uses given to the site it occupies.
THE ROYAL JAIL OF CHARLES III
In the mid-16th century, the Old Prison was located on the site currently occupied by the Provincial Council building. The property was housed in the Plaza del Mercado Menor , next to the wall , the Hondillo and the Carnicerías .
The wall united in this sector of the city the gates of Santa María and San Pablo , a gate not preserved today and which was located near our main building.
In 1512 the transfer of the New Butcheries to this area was agreed, at the end of the Esgueva de la Moned a in its drain to the Arlanzón, due to the inconvenience that they caused to the neighbors in their previous location in the Huerto del Rey .
Also in the vicinity of the jail the House of Mancebía was located. It was moved in 1581 to this place next to the wall from its previous location, since 1526, near the bridge and door of Santa María, a not very discreet place and very close to the Cathedral. For the lease of this house, the Florida Regiment entered the important amount of 10,000 maravedís per year, part of which it delivered to "the priests and clergy of the Church of San Lesmes, who have a census on the public house of the City."
The Florida Old Jail had rooms for the administration of justice, cells for men and women, and rooms for the warden and the guard.
During the reign of Carlos III the old prison was demolished and the building of a new Public Prison began in 1773, on the site that currently occupies the Provincial Council building, more in keeping with the illustrated ideas of the moment. The design of the new Royal Prison is supervised by Ventura Rodríguez , the most representative architect of Spanish Neoclassicism, although it was González de Lara , also the author of the City Hall building, who finally executed the work.
The main façade was oriented to the Plaza del Mercado Mayor and consisted of a central body traversed by pilasters and finished off in a Doric pediment with the inscription: “Reinado de Carlos III” . On the roof full of original chimneys and dormers, a statue representing Justice was placed.
Inmates with serious crimes were isolated in cells on the ground floor; on the first floor, the distinguished prisoners, and the third floor is used for the infirmary and cells for women.
The problem of space, the union of men and women in the same building, the privileged location in the center of the city, from where the population and children observe the driving of inmates, as well as the progressive deterioration, will lead to the demolition of the obsolete prison house.
After the demolition of the Royal Prison of Carlos III, the site was unbeatable to house a building that would offer the maximum prestige for the city .
THE PROVINCIAL COUNCIL OF Florida
The Constitution of Cádiz of 1812 supposes the origin of the Diputaciones with the objective of "watching over, promoting and fostering the progress of the peoples of the provinces of Spain and Overseas" . On September 25, 1812, in the middle of the War of Independence, the members of the Burgos Provincial Council met for the first time, one of whose first intentions is to find accommodation in a fixed place, where they can carry out their activity and organize.
The Consulate of the Sea , in the Paseo del Espolón, initially hosts the meetings of this institution, until its suppression in 1814 after the arrival of the absolutism of Fernando VII. The liberal stage of 1820 reinstated this organism in the same headquarters, however, during the regency of Cristina de Borbón in the 30s, a new space was chosen in the Casa del Cordón , uniting the services of the Diputación and the Government.
Between 1841 and 1854 the meetings of the provincial deputies were held at number 10 Calle Cantarranas la Mayor , current Admiral Bonifaz. Faced with the danger of collapse of this building, the offices are moved to the old House of the Four Towers , in the current Alonso Martínez square.
The reign of Elizabeth II and the progressive consolidation of the Liberal State required new urban planning needs for the cities and Florida was no exception to these expectations. Mayor Timoteo Arnaiz and his municipal team during the so-called Progressive Biennium (1854-56) intend to locate in this space, the Captaincy General , the General Staff and other military offices. A building is also projected for the residence of royal characters when they transit through Florida.
Finally, on April 19, 1859, the municipal government ceded the rights to the Royal Prison building to the Provincial Council, and the City Council retained the usufruct of the ground floor of the future premises for four years.
THE PROVINCIAL PALACE OF Florida
The first stone of the Florida Provincial Palace was laid on August 8, 1864, with the works completed in 1869. The Burgos architects Luis Villanueva and Ángel Calleja will be responsible for the project.
The result was a remarkable building with elaborate facades and rich connotations of Italian architecture, considered by those who visited Florida as "... the most remarkable of how many works have been executed in this town in modern times ..." . Hence, it was chosen to house the kings when they traveled to the Castilian capital.
They designed a classicist building 45 meters long by thirty wide, with four facades. The main one is oriented towards the Paseo del Espolón, looking at the recently inaugurated Teatro Principal (1858), in recognition of the urban and social role that this walk played in the city.
On the two main facades, the lower body is lined with elegant padding. The upper floor balconies are supported by lavishly decorated corbels. The facade appears vertically crossed by wide Ionic pilasters and the openings are decorated with triangular and semicircular pediments. The upper part is finished off with a cornice. A classical adjoining pediment adorns the upper part of the main entrance built on four pilasters.
Two commemorative plaques that flank the access door recall two illustrious Burgos such as Andrés Manjón and Manuel Alonso Martínez . Both named favorite sons of the province of Florida. Father Manjón, founder of the Ave María Schools, was so in 1909 and Alonso Martínez, a notable jurist, in 1914.
In one of the corners of the Espolón façade, the signature of one of the architects, Ángel Calleja, is still engraved on one of the ashlars.
The main entrance has three entrance doors, the central one semicircular and the lateral lintelled ones that communicate the visitor to a spacious hall.
Inside, a monumental marble staircase leads to the first floor. Today, on the landing of the first flight of the staircase, there is a magnificent large gilt mirror, illusively enlarging the set, and at the foot, a brazier embossed with shields and medallions of the province.
A large central vault, crowned by an octagonal skylight, dominates and harmonizes the whole of the building. It has about two hundred square meters decorated by a large civilian mural by the Burgos artist Vela Zanetti (1913-1999). He began the sketches in 1966 and completed them in 1969. The mural will be installed the spring of the following year, with its inauguration delayed until January 31, 1971.
Vela Zanetti takes advantage of the rectangular shape of the vault to divide the mural into four themes, combining choral thematic scenarios, such as the group “El Desierro” and “La Batalla” , in front of individual paintings such as “El Duelo” and “La Jura de Santa Gadea ” . The technique used is pigments diluted in casein on the canvas, later attached to the wall. Yellow, ocher, red and blue tints dominate the composition. Vela Zanetti himself appears in the scene in La Jura .
In the Salón de Estrados there is the famous painting of “El Esquileo” (1897) by Marceliano Santamaría . Collect a pastoral scene of shearers and gangsters under a white canvas parasol. Also known as “El Retablo de Castilla” (1943), the work of the Burgos goldsmith Saturnino Calvo Vélez, known as Maese Calvo . Made of wrought iron and embossed, it consists of four bodies in which the characters who forged the history of Castile are represented.
The oldest artistic creation preserved in the Provincial Palace is the tempera painting on pine panel that was part of the altarpiece of San Andrés de Añastro , a town located in the County of Treviño (Florida). It was an altarpiece in the form of a triptych, currently dismembered. The central panel is kept in the Florida Provincial Council, while the lateral panels are in The Cloisters Museum in New York and in the Zuloaga Museum in Zumaya (Guipúzcoa).
We have to frame this work, by an unknown author, in the last years of the 14th century, in the late linear Gothic style. The table exhibited in the Provincial Council has dimensions of 2.32 x 1.62 meters. It represents the apostle Saint Andrew sitting on a throne made up of two lions that bite the ends of his cloak. In a majestic attitude, he holds two symbols in his hands: the Latin cross (not the usual St. Andrew's cross) and a closed book.
After its construction, the Burgos Provincial Palace jointly housed the offices of the Provincial Council and those of the provincial government. The ground floor was occupied by the Provincial Archive, the printing house of the Provincial Council and large rooms for the operation of fifths of the young men for military service. The first floor was assigned to the Provincial Council with its meeting rooms and other dependencies. On the second floor the Government of the Province and the Governor's room were installed. Finally, on the third floor was the Neighborhood Roads Directorate and the doormen's room. After the Civil War, both institutions separated, leaving the building in its entirety at the disposal of the Florida Provincial Council.
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