In 1241, King Jaime set aside an area of land next to the old mosque (where the Valencia cathedral now lies) so the new Archbishop could build his residence. Completed in 1279, and in 1348, the bridge between the palace and the newly completed cathedral was built, passing over tiny but beautiful Calle Barchilla. The building served as the main palace for bishops until the late 1700’s when it underwent a massive renovation, though the chapel was kept in its mostly original state.
In July 1936, the large imposing palace was torched by Republican supporters during the outbreak of the civil war. Like most churches throughout Spain at this time, it was burned to the ground as the oppressed population revolted against its oppressors, with violent results. The palace burned for three days and was left in ruins as Valencia grew to be a Republican stronghold (and later capital city of the Spanish Republic). When the Republicans were defeated in 1939, a plan to rebuild the palace was born. Started in 1941 and finished in 1945, the completed new building was modelled on Sevillian designs. The archway to the cathedral was mostly unscathed and is still original , but the palace is all new after its interior and exterior was totally destroyed in the war attack.
The building has gone from an important symbol of the church, to a symbol of greed burned to the ground, and now sits unassuming behind the grand cathedral and basilica, giving away little secrets about its past.
Historical photos from Juan Antonio Soler Aces and present day by Caroline Angus Baker and Elena Cassals