The historic glassworks at La Granja 10 km south-east of Segovia, stands close to the Baroque summer palace of the Bourbon kings of Spain, built by King Felipe (Philip) V from 1721. In 1727-28 an existing royal works from Nuevo Baytan in the province of Toledo was re-established at La Granja under the direction of Ventura Sit, a Catalan foreman. King Philip intended that it should reduce Spain’s imports of glass from other countries, and in the mid-eighteenth century it employed 200 workers of 14 different nationalities.
Between 1770 and 1784 the works was re-located into an imposing grey granite building designed by Joan de Villanueva, that has been described as ‘one of the most emblematic industrial buildings in Europe’. In subsequent years La Granja produced Venetian-style glass of exquisite quality, but the works was paralysed during the Napoleonic Wars, and suffered severe decline in the later nineteenth century. It was revived in 1911.
The Fondacion Centro Nacional del Vidrio (National Glass Foundation) was established in 1982 and the present museum was opened in 1991. Its most important exhibits are the buildings of the late eighteenth century, including the remarkable ‘Nave del Hornos’ (nave of furnaces), but there are also displays of the best glass produced at La Granja, of scientific instruments made of glass, and of modern artistic creations in glass, as well as a collection of bottles from all over Europe.