From 1 May to 30 September:
Closed on Mondays
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Sundays: 10:00 am to 1:30 pm
Rest of the year:
Closed on Mondays
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Sundays: 11:00 am to 1:30 pm
On 25 and 26 December and 1 January the Renaissance Interpretation Centre is closed.
Founded by Charles V for the purpose of educating the Moors, they are some of the best examples of renaissance civil architecture in Catalonia. The patio, which is considered unique in the country, includes the busts of the kings of the Aragon Crown, from Ramon Berenguer IV to Philip IV. The Renaissance Interpretation Centre is located in the Church, which is a place that materializes the Renaissance epoch in an area of continuous activity that, in turn, manages and disseminates the heritage created during the years the Renaissance Festival has been held. The Renaissance Festival is an event that recreates history.
Tortosa was, in the 16th century, one of the most important cities in Catalonia, and had a School specialized in training Dominican theologians, a reputation that prompted the public powers to build a School annex specialized in training new Christians. Both are known by the name of Reials Col•legis de Tortosa and would become the embryo for future university courses, where students could obtain their Doctorate in Theology and their BA in Philosophy and Art.
The architectural complex known as Reials Col•legis consists of three buildings: the Sant Jaume and Sant Maties School, the Sant Domènec and Sant Jordi School and the Sant Domènec Church (now the Renaissance Interpretation Centre).
Sant Jaume and Sant Maties School
This building has a strong but simple facade, in which the access door draws one’s attention due to its pronounced monumental nature. In the middle there is a representation of the imperial shield of its founder Charles I. The figures of Santiago and San Matías, patrons of the school, are placed in niches crowned by the figure of an angel, the Guardian Angel, patron of the city.
The completely Italian structure of the courtyard should be particularly noted, with its very rich iconography praising the monarchy, work by the sculptor Francisco Montehermoso. The parapet of the second gallery becomes a frieze carved with shields and effigies of the royal couples of the Crown of Aragon, from Ramon Berenguer IV and Peronella d'Aragó to Philip III and Margarita of Austria.
In the first gallery, there are busts of possible Jews and Moors and, in the second one, the effigies of prophets and apostles in medallions. The evangelist symbols are shown on the lower floor of the patio. On the outside part of the second gallery, placed on the angles, there are four shells containing personifications of the winds.
This building, also called the Upper School, was initially used for educating the converts’ children as part of a strategy designed by the Crown to convert and culturally integrate the Moors. It currently houses the Historic Archive of the Ebro Lands.
Sant Jordi and Sant Domènec School
It seems that the author of the building’s design was Martin Mendoza Garcia, senior master of Tortosa cathedral between 1581 and 1615 and one of the most prominent architects of the diocese territory during the Renaissance. He was even asked to give his expert opinion on numerous buildings, such as the Palace of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia in Barcelona.
Only certain specific elements remain from the original building. The Portal is remarkable, inspired by Sebastiano Serlio’s work, where there is an inscription indicating its function, Domus Sapientae (House of Wisdom). The upper part is crowned by the shield of Philip II. The semicircular arch of the entrance is flanked by the Dominicans’ heraldry.
It was initially used for the study of theology and was also called the Lower School. After the secularization of the convent in 1835 it was used as military barracks and suffered, in 1936, the effects of the civil war. It now houses the Official School of Languages.
Sant Domènec Church
The church was built in the 16th century, after the buildings mentioned above. It has one single nave without a crossing but with lateral chapels between the buttresses. The portal is decorated with sculptures of great quality that were beheaded in the 19th century. The portal is crowned with the Episcopal weapons of the founder, Bishop Izquierdo.
Inside the church, in front of the presbytery, there are the tombstones of Baltasar Sorió, lecturer of the Cathedral, and Juan Izquierdo, Bishop of Tortosa from 1574 to 1585, the main promoters of the founding and building of the Royal Schools. There are also other elements that were not originally part of the complex, from the Casa de la Ciutat (City Hall) that no longer exists. In the front of the hall there is the cupboard containing Tortosa’s old archive. It has great symbolic value, since it refers to the origins of the municipal archive, along with the interior decoration with Tortosa’s shield and the presence of the Guardian Angel, patron saint of the city. Embedded in the interior wall of the current exit to the Mossèn Sol Square there is the portal of the old town hall study, from the sixteen century building in calle Ciutat, which was demolished in 1915.
With the 1835 “Disentitlement” and the disappearance of the Dominican order, the church was occupied by military units until 1910, when it was recovered by the municipality in order to place the Museum-Archive of the city place there, which can now be found in the building of the school of Sant Jaume and Sant Maties.
Renaissance Interpretation Centre
The Renaissance Interpretation Centre is located in the Church of Sant Domènenc, which was built in the 16th century, after the other two buildings of the Royal Schools.
During the entire year this centre continuously manages and disseminates the Renaissance Festival, the history, the patrimonial and cultural heritage of the city and territory during this period extending contact with citizens and visitors throughout the whole year.