The Llotja de la Seda or the La Lonja Silk Exchange in English is one of the many things to do in Valencia city and is definitely a big tourist attraction. Located in the old city center, I can highly recommend it as one of the must see sights on any Valencia itinerary. It’s not hard to find as it is next to one of the other major attractions in Valencia, namely the El Mercat, the biggest indoor market in Spain, and one of Europe’s largest, with over a thousand stalls selling everything from fresh fish to olives and flowers.
The amazing Goth architectural masterpiece Silk Exchange became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 saying “the site is of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities.” We agree.
La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) History:
From the outside, the Silk Exchange looks like an old fortress, and reminded me very much of the Cordoba palace. The old Medieval look with the stone walls might lead you to believe it was once a palace. Construction of the Silk Exchange started in 1483 under the direction of a master builder by the name of Pere Compte. He did not live to see its completion in 1548. In those days during the 15th century, the Kingdom of Valencia was a formidable city and at its highest point, culturally and economically. It was the flagship of the Crown of Aragon.
Silk Exchange Valencia:
The Silk Exchange was the only designated building for merchants to conduct their trade. It was strictly for trade and no politics were allowed within its walls, not even political problems with Aragon and Catalonia disturbed the trading. Valencia’s La Lonja was the places for traders from Italy, North Africa and France to name a few. The currency was strong, and the city flourished. There are 3 main sections to the La Lontja de la Seda, and they all lead out to the Courtyard of the Oranges to make a square. This was a recurring theme in those days, once again, our Alcazar in our former home of Seville came to mind.
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Contract Hall of the Silk Exchange:
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This is the main part of the grounds, and takes up the most amount of space. This is where the actual wheeling and dealing took place. There is a small chapel in the basement of the building called Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Completely empty, so a quick look.
La Lonja: Chapel
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Hall of Columns Silk Exchange Valencia:
The room has quite a number of columns with very detailed artwork, ropes of ships, skeins of silk and they go all the way to the ceiling which is just over 17 meters ( 55.7ft) in height. They sort of look like palm trees to me. The floor is entirely made of marbles of different colors, including black and white.
We found out later the saying that was way high up that we couldn’t read. It was a reminder for the Christian traders to behave themselves. I wonder if this means there were no Muslim traders allowed, or that they had a different saying :-) . This is the rough translation:
“…Fellow countrymen, see how kind trade can be,
when there is no fraudulence in words, when
promises are made to ones fellow men and not broken,
when money is not given with usury…”
Merchants who were bankrupt or unable to pay their bills were kept in cells on the upper floor. I bet it was a pretty shameful experience.
Valencia Silk Exchange: Consulate of the Sea:
This is third section of the Llotja de la Seda (Valenician) which is accessed from the Courtyard of Oranges. I think my most favorite part was the massive door leading to the hall itself. It had acquired a beautiful patina from years of exposure to the elements. The hall itself is decorated with medallions with busts of Roman emperors and other dignitaries.
Fun Facts about the Silk Exchange Valencia:
- There are 28 Gothic gargoyles on the building, and they are designed to collect water from the roof.
- Religious carved figures are hidden in the moulding, floral design and doorways.
- Designed as a shrine to commerce, the La Lonja is considered to be symbolic. Paradise and the vaulted ceiling, heaven’s roof.
- There was an earlier exchange before the current one and was called the Oil Exchange ( Lonja del Aceite ). Built in the 14th century, Agricultural oil, as well other goods were traded.
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La Lonja Silk Exhange Address:
Carrer de la Llotja, 2, 46001 València
Valencia Silk Exchange Hours:
Monday through Saturday: 9.30AM till 7PM
La Lonja Silk Exchange Entry Fee:
Entry fee is €2 so a bargain
Students and Elderly: €1
Free entry of Sundays and Holidays
Should you visit La Lonja Silk Exchange?
Yes. It is an amazing world heritage site that l think should be part of any itinerary of things to do in Valencia. The Courtyard of Oranges offers shade from the heat, and smells very nice too. Make sure to get a map in English so you can get your bearings in one of Valencia Spain points of interest. Definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Valencia.
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What do you think of the La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) ? Would you consider it a must visit in Valencia?