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History of the building

Grabado de Alfred Guesdon Engraving by Alfred Guesdon with the palace of Dos Aguas prior to the 1867 refurbishing

The Gothic Palace

The Palace was built by the Rabassa de Perellós family following the marriage of Francesc de Perellós and Joana Rabassa. It was their grandson, Giner Rabassa de Perellós and Montagut, who would buy the estate of Dos Aguas in 1496 from Luis Cornell Boil de Ladrón, thus creating the Barony of Dos Aguas. This perhaps led to the first important changes to the building, which continued into the following centuries and included increasing its size by buying neighbouring properties.

However, the exterior of the building, and its medieval structure, did not change much until the barony became a marquisate. Visual documentation of this remains: the first map of Valencia drawn up in 1704 by Father Tosca includes contemporary views of the Palace from when it was passed over to Giner Rabassa de Perellós y Pardo in 1699. As in other palaces of that period, such as the Almoina, the Gothic building consisted of a mezzanine, a main floor and an attic with gallery. It was completed with three wings surrounding the courtyard, and a mezzanine and deck. This layout is repeated around the other courtyard at the rear of the building. This was originally an orchard and then a garden (until 1825) enclosed by two arches.

Portada del palacio de Dos Aguas Palace of Dos Aguas' main entrance

The Palace during the 18th Century

In 1740, Giner Rabassa de Perellós, third Marquis of Dos Aguas, decided to renovate his ancestral home to demonstrate his power and lineage. He entrusted the work to engraver and painter Hipólito Rovira, who replaced the severe character of the old house with a much grander decorative style.

Especially noteworthy from this renovation is the main entrance, built in alabaster by Ignacio Vergara, following Hipólito Rovira’s design. The façade is in authentic Baroque style and shows an allegory of the Turia and Júcar rivers representing the marquisate. This is complemented by an alcove depicting the Virgin of the Rosary also by Vergara. Engravings and photographs tell us that the alcove was protected by a balcony which used to run above.

A photograph taken between 1854 and 1863 shows how the entrance looked originally. Before the 19th century refurbishment, the decoration was much more extensive at the base and over the left hand side. José María Ximenez y Cros’ façade renovation project of 1863 removed this decoration and instead proposed a neo-baroque style façade to integrate and contextualise Rovira and Vergara’s original version.

Fachada del palacio, siglo XIX Façade of the palace with the balcony in the first floor

The Palace during the 19th Century

The most important restoration began with Vicente Dasí Lluesma, who inherited the title of Marquis of Dos Aguas in 1853 after the last heir in the direct line of succession passed away. Don Vicente decided to carry out an extensive programme of restoration between 1854 and 1867. The work was primarily ornamental and very eclectic as it combined a variety of styles including Rococo, neo-imperial and Chinese motifs.

The restoration was based on the careful study of the estate, with Ximenez y Cros’ project used as a starting point. Rovira's delicate stuccowork was replaced with a flecked stuccowork. Lacking any kind of protective structure, such as an eave or a cornice, Rovira´s work had already been restored by Ferrer in the 18th century. Don Vincente´s restoration also involved knocking down the balcony. In the inner courtyard the Gothic windows were replaced with balconies decorated with reliefs of figurative images representing the arts (architecture and sculpture), agriculture and also commerce, the foundations of the Marquisate’s wealth. Artists such as Salustiano Asenjo, José Brel, Plácido Francés, José Felipe Parra, José Marcelo de Contreras, Francisco Molinelli, Eleuterio Álamo and others took part in the restoration as craftsmen, creating different styles adapted to the function of each room.

These works formed series of different types of spaces, changing the height of some of the rooms, lowering others or plastering the ceilings which then served as support for the different types of decoration.

At the same time, furniture of the period was bought, such as the collection of Dresden pieces coated with Saxon porcelain found on display in the Little Porcelain Room. After years of building work, the restoration was finally unveiled on the 17th May 1867.

Ampliación del museo The museum prior to the enlargement in the 70's

The Palace during the 20th Century

In 1941 the Palace became a historic art monument, and in 1949 it was sold to the Ministry of Education to house the important ceramic collection donated to the state on 7th February 1947 by Manuel González Martí and his wife Amelia Cuñat. The collection was kept at their home for seven years, but after the restoration of the Palace of Dos Aguas between 26th June 1950 and 18th June 1954, the National Museum of Ceramics eventually opened its doors.

Between 1969 and 1972 the Museum was extended with the construction of a new wing, the exterior of which reproduces the style of the Palace’s 19th Century façade.

During the 1980s the Museum needed major work to improve its infrastructure and facilities. This led to another restoration, together with a reorganisation of the presentation of the collections. The Museum was closed in 1990 so that the renovation work could begin. The Museum only reopened to the public in 1998.