The Lonja de Seda (Silk Exchange ; in Valencian : Llotja de la Seda), also called Lonja de los Mercaderes (Commodity Exchange Building ; llotja dels mercaders in Valencian), is one of the most spectacular buildings that has the valencian history. It is a famous monument of the gothic civil architecture in Valencia and Europe, declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument since 1931 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1996.
The Lonja de la Seda is located downtown, in front of the central market and the Santos Juanes church. It occupies an area of almost 2,000 m2 and possesses dimensions worthy of a cathedral.
In the Middle Ages, the city of Valencia was interested in fashion and textiles and thus developed an important silk industry. Meanwhile, the old Lonja became insufficient to meet the prosperity of the city and the construction of the Silk Exchange was required in the 15th century. This building was quickly considered as the symbol of power and wealth of the city to attract traders. Since its construction, it has been used as both a Commodity Exchange, a bank and a meeting place for merchants.
It was built at the initiative of the General Council of the City who wanted to have a representative building where we could make commercial transactions.
This building, of the size of a cathedral, was built from 1483 to 1498 by Pere Compte, engineer and Catalan architect living in Valencia, also architect of the Cathedral of Valencia. This Lonja was inspired by the Lonja of Palma de Mallorca.
Although this site is no longer a commodity exchange or a bank, the Lonja remains a splendid place open to all. On Sunday, outside, philatelists and numismatists modestly perpetuate the tradition by exchanging and selling parts of their collections.
Architecture and rooms description
It is the most representative building of Gothic civil architecture in the city of Valencia. You will not fail to spot this incredible work with its impressive rooms and obscene gargoyles.
The Lonja is composed of three different buildings and a garden called “orange tree patio” (Patio de los Naranjos). The three parts of this edifice are the Sala de Contratación (Contract Hall), The Torreón (Great Tower or Donjon) and the Consulado del Mar (Consulate of the Sea).
You are immediately attracted by its facade designed by Pere Compte, with 28 gargoyles evoking vices and virtues of the human being.
On the facade overlooking the market square, we note the gallery of arcades decorated with 40 Renaissance style medallions.
The best view of the 40 medallions on the facade of the Lonja is undoubtedly from the Real Parroquia de los Santos Juanes. This is the only place where we can see the busts of Roman emperors and illustrious personages who are represented.
Sala de Contratación (Contract Hall)
Entering the Sala de Contratación, also called Salón Columnario (Room of columns), you will remain amazed by its tall columns and arches looking like palm trees. This room is composed of three longitudinal and five transversal naves and is distinguished by its 24 twisted pillars supporting the vaults intersecting ribs. Its height of 17.40 meters and a surface area of 781 m2 sup> give an impressive picture of the columns and the room.
On the ceiling, from the vaults, is an inscription in Latin that in addition to indicating the construction time of the building reminds traders their homework as good Christians by making praise of business practised without committing fraud and money loaned without interest, allowing them access to prosperity and eternal life.
On the ground, you can admire the black, white and ocher marble tiles, which in some places draw six-pointed stars.
This room was where were realized trade and commercial transactions of all kind. It is in this space of Mediterranean Gothic style that was installed the “Taula de Canvis” (exchange table), commercial bank established in 1407 by the Municipal Council of the city and which won a great prestige thanks to its solvency and the high volume of banking. Today, the “Taula” or “Mesa” (table) on which commercial transactions were carried out as well as the first bill of exchange known in Spain, are located in the Municipal Archives of Valencia.
La Sala de Contratación overlooks a small courtyard-garden (orange tree patio) with a lovely outdoor staircase leading to the Consulado del Mar (Consulate of the Sea).
Torreón (Donjon or Great Tower)
This quadrangular building of three floors is accessible by the Sala de Contractación, with an impressive spiral staircase without central axis (the 110 steps are fixed to the outer cylindrical wall). It is an architectural masterpiece.
On the ground floor was formerly the chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, while the first and second floors acted as prisons for defaulter merchants for centuries.
Consulado del Mar (Consulate of the Sea)
From orange trees patio, we reach the Consulado del Mar by an outside staircase that allows us to approach the medallions decorating the facade. This part of the Lonja, built in the early 16th sup> century possesses a Renaissance style.
This rectangular area, used as a meeting center, highlights the Golden Room (Cámara Dorada), a hall covered by a magnificent wooden coffered ceiling remaining of the former City Hall, now disappeared. We can also notice the decorative medallions on the facade overlooking the market square.
On the ground floor, the Trade Court met to solve issues related to maritime trade.
Did you know?
La Lonja is also the seat of Cultural Academy of Valencia. She is frequently used for the organization of exhibitions and other cultural activities.
The Lonja pulls out all the stops when it performs the Rey Jaime I awards, of research and scientific development, promoted by the Generalitat Valenciana and the biochemist Santiago Grisolia, a disciple of Nobel Severo Ochoa. These awards are presided by the Casa Real and gather the most prestigious scientists in the world as jury members.
Then, the winners are part of a research and development advisory council and of the Valencian government. The first Rey Jaime I Awards were established in 1989.
Calle Lonja, 2 – Valencia
Plaza del mercado, s/n
46001 – Valencia
Phone:+34 962 084 153
Fax:+34 963 529 634
N39 28 27.9 E0 22 42.4
Monday to Saturday, continuously from 9.30 am to 7 pm (6 pm in winter)
Sunday and public holidays, 9.30 am to 3 pm.
Every Sunday, market of stamps and coins
2 € or 1 € for groups, students, pensioners, large families.
Free entrance on Sundays and public holidays.
How to come
It is better to come by public transport or walking as it is not easy to park in this neighborhood unless you go into a public parking nearby:
3€ per hour – pricing minute
Plaça del Conde Parcent
Phone: +34 96 391 73 01
3€ per hour – pricing minute
1 Plaza de la Reina
Phone: +34 96 392 36 29
Buses with the closest stops are nº 7, 27, 28, 81 (Stops Mercat- Taula de Canvis y Mercat- Sant Ferran)
For more information: www.emtvalencia.es (Spanish and Valencian)
The subway does not pass through the old town. However, you can take line 1 and stop at Turia (exit Paseo de la Pechina) and walk 20 minutes.
More information on: www.metrovalencia.es (Spanish, English and Valencian)