The house retains the original structure, layout and decoration but the route followed by visitors takes in the ground floor, mezzanine and first floor, which have been transformed into a museum.
The first floor: the family’s home
This is the most sumptuous part of the house and the Papiol family’s first home. Located near Sant Antoni church and the old town hall, It has a fine view of what was then the centre of the town.
The rooms on this floor contain many features reflecting the refined taste of the nineteenth century. The furniture, fittings, walls decorated with grisaille pictures and the textiles give a unique insight into the period. Very few other buildings of this kind with such a wealth of detail have been preserved in Catalonia.
The most interesting rooms include the music room, the billiards room and, above all, the ballroom, where the family used to entertain guests. Socially, this was the most important part of the house, where meetings, literary gatherings and musical evenings took place, at a time when the town did not yet have public meeting places such as theatres or cafés. The route also includes more intimate corners, such as the private rooms of the master of the house and the bathrooms and dressing rooms.
The house also contains a small private chapel in neo-classical style, where an urn containing a relic of Saint Constantina takes pride of place. All kinds of religious services were held here for the family, an indication of their high social standing and privileged connections with the church.
In an inconspicuous position on the mezzanine floor we find an amazing library, containing nearly 6,000 volumes collected between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries and including unique copies of works on religion, history and law.
This area comprises the rooms used by the family’s servants. It should be borne in mind that a house of this social standing could have over thirty domestic staff to take care of the day to day running of the house and attend to the welfare of each member of the family. The house functioned as a small ecosystem in a world which was still pre-industrial, where everything was cooked and stored in the traditional way.
For practical reasons, the kitchen was the only room occupied by the staff located on the main floor. The others (the bakery, the oil room and the pantry) are on the lower floors, where we also find the only servant’s bedroom which is still conserved.
Rural area: working the land
The people serving the family included those working on the land. The Papiol family were land owners with a large number of holdings in different parts of Vilanova and the rest of the province. The rural area thus reflects the work involved in a way of life which was totally dependent on the land. Work related to the crops had a direct link with activities in the house so that granaries, cellars and stables were needed.
The garden: romantic memories
At the back of the house we find one of the few gardens remaining in the old centre of Vilanova. A little oasis of peace behind its walls, with a layout very typical of the Romantic period.
The porch, painted in a soft pastel tone, provides cover for a number of traditional horse-drawn carriages such as the tartana and the xarret, and old bicycles, metal velocipedes with large wheels.
The centre features a sculpted figure and two bas relief panels depicting classical scenes, in stone and Carrara marble.