The baroque / neoclassical church that covered San Juan del Hospital, for almost 250 years

When in 1966 a group of people visited the site of what was once the church of the historic complex of San Juan del Hospital de Valencia, this is what they found.
7.- Who will jump9.- Cine Sare Patio

The presbytery with the screen of the Sare university cinema. A stalls to the end of the temple.

The side chapels bricked up and the light entrances blocked.

7.1.- Presbytery, detail. Access to the SARE cinema bar(Primitive chapter Sta. Barbarian) Steps up to the presbytery. On the right the first little chapel of Sta. Barbara, converted into bar access.

These photographs that belong to the archive of the Fundación de la C.V. Set of San Juan del Hospital in Valencia, (ASJHV), were taken following the indications of S. Josemaría Escrivá, what commented: "Over time they will not believe how the venue was".

In them, in addition to the surprising thing about finding a movie screen and some armchairs, mere anecdote already known, we must pay attention to the semi-baroque coating, rather neoclassical, that hid the early gothic church. The change occurred in the early years of the S. XVIII.

The pointed arches were lowered to semicircular arches or carpanel; False lunettes were opened in the vault and the cornices and pillars were covered with plaster litter..

But there are other photographic testimonies, even more explicit, taken from publications of the beginning of s. XX, where you can see the entire enclosure. Almost unrecognizable.

Publication of Fernando LLorca Díe: "San Juan of the Hospital of Valencia. Foundation of the s. XIII”

Publication of Fernando LLorca Díe: "San Juan of the Hospital of Valencia. Foundation of the s. XIII”

They are photographs found in Fernando Llorca Díe's book, his doctoral thesis, written in the first decade of the s. XX and published in 1930.

Later the temple was looted and damaged, losing the artistic heritage it contained, but the construction of the chapels and the presbytery remains standing, like the main altar and its altarpiece.

Let's see what Fernando Llorca tells us about this altar in his thesis, that supports the testimonies of historians and travelers:

“Dice Ponz, on his journey", that the main altar had a very ancient Gothic altarpiece with a good tabernacle on whose door a Savior was painted, like those of the Joanes ”... and continues Llorca: "The altar now was finished in 1781, as Orellana tells us, in its history "ancient and modern Valencia", by the disposition that was to prevent fires, taken in 1777, that ordered: "Do not build wooden altarpieces, yes plaster, stone or other solid material, as in compliance with said Order it has already been executed in some, especially the main altar of the Church of San Juan del Hospital (that was concluded for the day of Saint John the Baptist 24 of June of 1781 ) and has been formed of brick ".

Detail view of the main altar, work of Josep Domínguez in the s. XVIII. It is interesting to observe the capitals that top the columns, of Corinthian order and that are currently in the museum's showroom.

Almost 40 years later, within the recovery project of the historic complex of San Juan del Hospital de Valencia, to return the church to worship and later to the public the monument of the s. XIII, the altar was torn down, already very damaged, to gain access to the ribbed vault and Gothic warheads.

24.- Demolition of the main altarInterior demolition warehouse

Then the church was inaugurated, stripping it of the cinema curtain and other inappropriate accessories.

Covering the space of the altar with a large hanging.

13.- church nave11.- Recovery of the presbytery, first days of worship

Preparations for the first liturgical acts and worship. The altar of the main altar is supported by the recovered capitals.


Inauguration of the church on the day 24 of June of 1967, festivity of San Juan Bautista. The nave of the church can be seen even without recovering its original appearance.

The years went by and the temple regaining its Gothic factory; an impressive joint work of the priests of Opus Dei (that since 1967 have entrusted by the Archdiocese of Valencia the pastoral care of the church of San Juan del Hospital) and the General Directorate of BBAA of the Ministry of Culture, who advised and supported the recovery initiative of the historic complex declared in 1943 "National Historic-artistic Monument".

For this reason, the original plans of the architects who carried out this project are kept in the museum's archive as something very valuable.: Pons-Sorolla, Ferran Ferré and others, with the notes, notes and correspondence between them and the first rector, D. Salvador Moret.

In the nineties, After a long period of inactivity in the general recovery works, he took over the Historic Complex, as rector of the church, D. Manuel de Sancristoval and Murua. Which again promoted the recovery projects of the entire enclosure and the restoration of unique elements, plus configuring a nonexistent file.

The entire medieval site was considered a "Site" Museum in 1997.

Young university students collaborated, disinterestedly, in these recovery works, raising plans, hauling slabs and segments to their proper place and initiating the first data computerizations, plans and photographs. All this was being archived in the Museum giving rise to the realization of multiple research works from very different universities. As well as the first web page.

In the 2001 the Master Plan was finalized "Of the temple and dependencies of San Juan del Hospital", as the Ministry of Culture called it, which put it out to public tender. The historical-artistic commission of the church won the contest, after the presentation of all the numerous archived material. The principal architect was Vicente Lassala Bau, coordinated by Margarita Ordeig Corsini. The professors of the University of Valencia: José Mª Cruselles, Enrique Dies, Amadeo Serra, and the Polytechnic University: Mª Jesús Jiménez, Fernando Romero and Francisco Taberner formed the research and writing team. Pedro Luis Gallud the layout of the volumes.

From that moment they were arriving from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the Literary, among others, students who, by indication of their teachers, requested to carry out their thesis and thesis on the historical-artistic ensemble or any of its aspects. They were cared for by the staff in charge of the museum and they were given access to the photographic files, plans and documentaries. In addition to accompanying your visit and explaining, out loud, many details that are not written anywhere.

This was how under the tutelage of Jorge García Valldecabres, architect and professor at the UPV, the student José Ramón Mansilla Bermejo attended the museum archive, to study and prepare your thesis on one of the most unknown aspects of the monumental complex, the baroque period, after seeing the photographs of the state of the church and the chapels, the plans made in the decade of 1960-70 and 1990-2000, plus archived data on the story and builder characters involved.

José Ramón Mansilla did an impressive planimetric work. It has metrically analyzed missing elements and everything through the photographs of the San Juan del Hospital archive and plans made previously. Some of them in other Valencian archives. Since every time a project is done, Copies are sent to the Department of Culture and the Ministry. A very interesting research project that brought together different pieces and aspects and allowed him to obtain a doctorate.

We include in this article some of the drawings made by José Ramón Mansilla, more curious, for the unknown, starting with the altar of José Martínez de 1777.

How he should not have known of the photographs of the presbytery, listed in the publication of F. Llorca from the beginning of the 20th century, we have recorded them here, to be able to compare the magnificent drawings of the altar, you have done in CAD, with reality.


We will be publishing some other aspects of what was the baroque / neoclassical church.

Margarita Ordeig Corsini




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