AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BUILDING’S HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
With the characteristicsobriety and eleganceofHerrera’s building designs, the Royal Mintepitomizes the industrial heritage of the Spanish Renaissance period. Built by order of Philip II and planned by architect Juan de Herrera, the new factory was a model of efficient administration and cutting edge technologyinvolving the production of coins. The Museum’s main concern lays,therefore,on the appropriate working methods,technology, and systems applied in the coining processes. The building is a result of the long tradition of numismatic manufacture in Segovia, and it reflects the continued existence of its maintained industrial activity for more than five centuries.
A UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT
The construction of the Royal Mint demanded a particular set of orographic conditions. Philip II wanted to build an enormous complex that would represent his power and hisprosperous empire. A privileged setting was chosen consequently on the Eresma riverside, in the outskirts of the quarters of San Lorenzo (St Lawrence) and San Marcos (St Marcus). In this handsome location, populated since Celtic-Iberian and Roman times,some religious buildings already existed with vegetable gardens, workshops and small mills. The new Royal Mint absorbed three medieval edifices: Santiago’s and San Gil’s churches, eventually demolished in the 19th century, and a paper and wheat mill. The structure of this mill was partially used for the construction of the Small Mint, housing the machinery to work gold and silver coins.
|Antón Van de Wyngaerde. 1562|
HALL 1. HISTORY OF THE PLACE
The Bronze Ace is a coin that was minted between 20BC and 30BC. This is the first historical document in which the word Segovia appears
MEDIEVAL TIMES.SEGOVIAN COIN PRODUCTION IN MEDIEVAL TIMES.
A letter written by king Alphonse VII in 1135. In it, the monarch donates a third of all worked coins in this city forthe future building of the old Romanesque Saint Mary’s Cathedral, destroyed during the Revolt ofCommunards.
THE OLD HOUSE
Before constructing the Royal Mint in 1583, Segovia already had a mint, later known as Casa Vieja(The Old House). This had been built in 1455 by order of king Henry IV.
The building’s plan was commissioned to the most significant architectof that time, Juan de Herrera. Its industrial plant was pioneering in the manufacturing of the whole coining process, from the arrival of the raw material, the metal, to the resulting product.
FROM FLY PRESSES TO THE MECHANIZATION
The original minting method of usinghydraulic rollers was replaced bythat offly presses. Adopting this new technology –imported from France in Bourbon times- meant undertaking major alterations at the mint.
As from 1866, the industrial revolution brought about a mechanized minting method which was operational only until the establishment of the peseta coin in 1868. The coining activity was then centralized in Madrid and the mint in Segovia became a flour factory.
ARCHEOLOGICAL INVOLVEMENT AND RESTORATION
After years of lethargy, an ambitious project was undertaken: the recuperation of one of the most emblematical monuments in Segovia, only comparable to the cathedral, the alcazar (fortress) or the aqueduct. The integral restoration of the building was initiated in 2007. That year both, a comprehensive archeological examination, and the reconstruction of the machinery, took place. After fifty months of full dedication on the part of numerous professionals of diverse disciplines, the Royal Mint’s original purpose has been completely resumed. By showing the building’s evolution through history, the ultimate aim has been achieved: to transmit to the general public the importance that one of the oldest examples of industrial architecture has accrued in Europe.