PANTHEON MAUSOLEUM DEDICATED TO JAMES I OF ARAGON, TARRAGONA

YEAR
1906-30

LOCATION
Ajuntament, Plaça de la Font I, Tarragona

PROMOTER
Comissió de Monuments de Tarragona

RESTORATION
1886 Restauració peces Eustaqui i Miquel Vallès i Helena Calaf
1992 Muntatge de les peces Lluís Bañeras, arquitecte

PANTHEON MAUSOLEUM DEDICATED TO JAMES I OF ARAGON, TARRAGONA

The ecclesiastical confiscations carried out by Mendizábal in 1835 affected the monastery of Poblet. In 1836 the tombs of James I of Aragon and of several members of the Royal House of Aragon were desecrated, and their remains were gathered together and moved to several places until they were finally deposited in Tarragona Cathedral in 1856. In 1906 the Monument Committee of Tarragona decided to commission from Domènech i Montaner the building of a mausoleum for the corpse of James I and another one for those of the other members of the Royal House of Aragon, in the same cathedral. Domènech’s design was accepted in 1908 by the central government, but due to the delay in the payments and the differences with the bishopric as regards the disposition of the mausoleum, the work was not completed until after the architect’s death.

Domènech designed a sarcophagus that merged into a ship on a baldachin that seemed to float on water. The ensemble measured nine metres in height and was made in richly decorated stone and ceramic ornament. The boat is supported by a limestone base topped by volutes in the shape of waves. The baldachin rests on eight slender columns that support three-lobed arches, topped by stone crenellation. The sarcophagus is covered in polychrome ceramic mosaic. The ensemble is decorated with sculptural elements and medallions containing numerous historic and heraldic references.

The dispute with the bishopric, that didn’t agree with Domènech’s idea to place the burial vault in the transept of the cathedral following the model of the monastery of Poblet, had only just been solved when the architect passed away in 1923. The sculptural work was quite advanced though not quite finished; some of the elements yet to be used were stored in the cathedral while others were still in Domènech’s workshop in Barcelona. Pere Domènech, the architect’s son, took over the supervision of the work, but the shortage of funds brought the project to a standstill. In 1952 Francisco Franco authorised the move of the corpse of James I of Aragon back to Poblet, as a result of which the pieces of the mausoleum that were no longer needed remained stored in a corner of the cathedral. Finally, in 1992 these pieces were assembled in one of the inner courtyards of Tarragona Town Hall, where they are still preserved.

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