Horta begins to recover its most abandoned heritage jewel

Horta begins to recover its most abandoned heritage jewel

Barcelona City Council has finally started the rehabilitation works on the Marqués de Alfarràs palace, the heritage jewel of the Laberint d’Horta park, subjected to inexplicable abandonment for decades and now, after long periods of pressure from residents, has been started to remedy.

The Palace of the Marqués de Alfarràs, also known as Desvalls Palace –in memory of Joan Antoni Desvalls, Marquis of Llupià and Marquis consort of Alfarràs– is a late 18th century building modified on various occasions with contributions of different styles, especially the carried out in the mid-nineteenth century, which gave it its current appearance.

More than 50 years ago, its owners ceded it to the Barcelona City Council in exchange for a land exchange. The peculiar gardens of the estate, known as the Laberint d’Horta have undergone various maintenance actions, something that has not happened with the manor house, victim of degradation due to the lack of deep interventions that would allow it to recover its former splendor .

Integral rehabilitation

The works will end in March 2024

Although late, the time to restore the lost dignity to the palace of the Marquès de Alfarràs has arrived. The comprehensive rehabilitation works of the 3,000 square meters of this building have a budget of 5 million euros and the works that have now begun are expected to be completed in March 2024.

The first intervention will consist of stopping the degradation process and conserving and recovering the original spaces by consolidating the structure of the property.

Subsequently, the work will focus mainly on waterproofing and reinforcing the structural capacity of the side roofs, in addition to consolidating the façade cladding, preserving the most outstanding elements that give the building greater heritage value.

In the last phase, the intermediate floors will be built to guarantee the consolidation of the palace and the building will be provided with the basic facilities (electricity, drainage, lightning rods) for its subsequent maintenance.

photo XAVIER CERVERA 08/06/2020 The Parc del Laberinto de Horta (in Catalan, parc del Laberint d'Horta) is a historic garden located in the Horta-Guinardó district of Barcelona.  It is the oldest garden preserved in the city.  It is located on the old estate of the Desvalls family, on a slope of the Collserola mountain range.  Started in 1794 and finished in its first phase in 1808, it was the work of the Italian architect Domenico Bagutti.  The enclosure includes a neoclassical garden from the 18th century and a romantic garden from the 19th century.1 It was opened to the public in 1971. This space has numerous works of art -mainly sculptures-, as well as various ponds, waterfalls, fountains and a canal that runs through the upper enclosure.  In the gardening, the labyrinth, made with cut cypresses, stands out especially, as well as some environments of different styles, from the neoclassical to the romantic.  In the domestic garden there are realizations of topiary art.  Throughout its history, the site has been visited by various monarchs, such as Carlos IV, Fernando VII and Alfonso XIII, and has been the setting for theatrical performances and various cultural events.  At present it is a garden-museum that has a municipal institute for training in gardening.  This park is considered a Cultural Asset of Local Interest (BCIL) in the Catalan Cultural Heritage Inventory (summer series Barcelona without tourists by Jordi enough to live, during the coronavirus pandemic (hence the visitor's mask))

The Laberint d’Horta park with its trimmed hedges

Xavier Cervera

The palace of the Marqués de Alfarràs is listed as a Cultural Asset of National Interest (BCIN). The last major action to preserve this architectural heritage of the Horta-Guinardó district took place between 1983 and 1987. Among other actions, the right wing of the building was rehabilitated, which has housed the El Laberint training center for 30 years , where courses and workshops on gardening, agriculture and biodiversity are taught.

The works that have just started are part of the program for the rehabilitation and enhancement of Barcelona’s architectural heritage, defined in the Barcelona, ​​Ciutat Patrimoni government measure. The common denominator of the regeneration of historic buildings such as the palace of the Marquès de Alfarràs is the use of existing resources and energy savings.

A 54-hectare park

A quarter of a million visitors a year

The palace of the Marqués de Alfarràs is located in the Laberint d’Horta park, made up of a set of gardens from different eras that extends over an area of ​​more than 54 hectares distributed over three staggered levels. On the lower level is where the iconic maze of clipped cypresses is located. The park receives about 250,000 visitors each year.

The Marquis of Alfarràs

A noble expert in hydraulics

The palace of the Marqués de Alfarràs cannot be explained without its gardens, popularly known as the Laberint d’Horta. The owner of the estate at the end of the 18th century, Joan Antoni Desvalls i d’Ardena, Marquis of Llupià, was an expert in hydraulics who transferred his passion for this science to the architect Domenico Bagutti and the French gardener Joseph Delvalet. The palace was included in the list of unique buildings that ERC urged the municipal government to rehabilitate to support the 2021 City Council budgets.

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