The Collège d’Espagne is a foundation attached to the Spanish government that’s dependent on the Ministry of Education. The donation act was signed in 1927 by King Alphonse XIII. The building’s inauguration was scheduled for 1932 but it was delayed due to political trouble in Spain. The house didn’t open its doors until 1935 under the 2nd Spanish Republic with the support of the Institución Libre Para la Enseñanza which had some of the most well-known intellectuals of the time among its members: Miguel de Unamuno, José Ortega y Gasset, Blas Cabrera, Américo Castro and Jiménez Fraud.
In May 1968, the Collège d’Espagne was occupied. General Franco, who didn’t adhere to the values of humanism and internationalism upheld by the Cité internationale, seized the opportunity to order the house to be closed. It didn’t reopen its doors until 1987. Twelve years of restoration work and modernisation allowed it to be restored to its former glory and to be more comfortable.
Today the house has 119 rooms. It plays an active role in the Cité internationale, notably thanks to a rich cultural, scientific and artistic programmes and active collaboration with numerous Parisian and French academic institutions.
The Collège d’Espagne holds the status of a foundation and is recognised as a public utility of which the board of directors is chaired by the Spanish ambassador in France.
The house has several communal spaces: a library, conference room and concert room, two seminar rooms, four music rooms, a gymnasium, a study room and a cafeteria.
The residence’s interior is plainly decorated and features artistic works from famous painters such as Francisco Bayeu y Subias and Michel-Ange Houasse and the no less-known famous designer and engraver Manoel Salvador y Carmona, as well as contemporary works some of which are in the garden.
Fernando Arrabal is a Spanish poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist and filmmaker. A member of the Collège de Pataphysique and influenced by Lewis Carroll, Antonin Artaud and Alfred Jarry, he is the author of hundreds of plays translated around the world. Imprisoned in 1967 by the Franco regime for his political engagement, he was not rehabilitated until the end of the regime when his work was very well-known.
The building was designed by the Spanish architect Modesto López Otero, one of the architects of the Ciudad Universitaria de Madrid, created in the same period, in collaboration with the French architects E. Body and J.-N. Warin. Its classic style is inspired by Monterrey’s Palace in Salamanca which belongs to the Duke of Alba.
The building’s character, built out of freestone, has towers that are modernised versions of those at Monterrey’s Palace. The H-shaped building has four levels and the winged extremities provide a fifth floor which was intended to house studios. These elevations have a roof terrace on the apexes, giving the building a majestic allure. In homage to the Spanish academic tradition, the building’s façade is decorated only with the coat of arms of the twelve historic Spanish universities.