Lonja de la Seda

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.

History

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).

Facade

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 +
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 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 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.

Information

Contact

Access
Calle Lonja, 2 – Valencia
Mail
Plaza del mercado, s/n
46001 – Valencia
Phone:+34 962 084 153
Fax:+34 963 529 634
whc.unesco.org/en/list/782
lonja@valencia.es
N39 28 27.9 E0 22 42.4

Opening hours

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

Tickets

2 € or 1 € for groups, students, pensioners, large families.
Free entrance on Sundays and public holidays.

How to come

Car
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:

  • Parking Oeste Parcent (300 m from the Lonja de la Seda – 5 min walk)
    3€ per hour – pricing minute
    Plaça del Conde Parcent
    46001 Valencia
    Phone: +34 96 391 73 01
    39°28’26.2″N 0°22’49.6″W
  • Plaza de la Reina (350 m from the Lonja de la Seda – 5 min walk)
    3€ per hour – pricing minute
    1 Plaza de la Reina
    46003 Valencia
    Phone: +34 96 392 36 29
  • Bus
    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)

    Metro

    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)

    City of Arts and Sciences

    Coming to Valencia without seeing the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or in valencian: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), is like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. You can’t miss this futuristic complex devoted to sciences and culture located at one end of what was formerly the bed of the River Turia.

    A 21st century city

    This spectacular and futuristic complex, inaugurated in 1998 and created by the great architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela as well as the engineers Alberto Domingo and Carlos Lázaro, is one of the most appreciated places in Valencia by tourists with more than 4 millions of visitors every year, which the Oceanogràfic has far the most success.

    This project was launched in the 90’s letting Calatrava free to design the future city of Valencia. It’s a space opened to everyone where it is possible to see an opera, see stars, discover the origins of life, face with a shark, etc.

    Its 350.000 m2 on two kilometers regroup different fun, scientific and cultural buildings such as: the Oceanogràfic (Oceanographical museum), the Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe (Sciences Museum), the Hemisfèric, the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofía (Arts Palace), the Umbracle, the Ágora. You will also find restaurants, shops and places to park. Around this area, new districts with high towers were built, so as hotels and big shopping centers (Aqua mall and Corte Inglés).

    According to the period of the year, some events are organized, in winter, an ice skating rink is installed in order for kids and adults to have fun, you will also be able to run inside bubbles on the City of Arts and Sciences’ water, spend your summer nights dancing at the Umbracle, …

    A unique concept

    The concept of this complex is to regroup in one place, open to everyone, leisure and science. It’s a unique concept in its kind in Europe that spread over two kilometers on the formerly river Turia to attract tourists to Valencia for something else than getting tan and enjoying the beach. The goal of this area was to create a center dedicated to leisure and investigations, satisfying the visitors’ curiosity and envies. This project has converted itself into a vast work with an international dimension.

    Its architect, Santiago Calatrava, native of Valencia, wished that all eyes turned to the city of Valencia. His mission is accomplished and the “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” is today the modern and avant-gardist representation of the city.

    Its history

    This project started in 1991 by the socialist Joan Lerma who employed the famous architect Santiago Calatrava to realize it. At the beginning, this first project was only a City of Sciences with one museum, one planetarium and a telecommunication tower that had to be taller than the Eiffel Tower by 50 meters with a cost of 150 millions euros. The project was criticized by the “populars” until the popular party took the power in 1995, changing the project with, as a consequence, criticisms from the socialists. After they stopped the work, a second project was proposed but was not accomplished and the tower finally transformed itself into a Palace of Arts, giving the definitive name of City of Arts and Sciences. Santiago Calatrava were in charge of remodeling the original idea. The total cost of this complex today is estimated at 1,300 millions euros.

    The goal of this place was not only to promote culture and earn money but also to revitalize an area of the city that was depressed before, where hotels and shopping centers were almost empty. Since the construction of the City of Arts and Sciences, all has revived and was renovated in this district.

    Its architecture

    This complex is the work of two great architects: Santiago Calatrava, born in Valencia community, and Félix Candela. All the buildings were designed by Calatrava except the Oceanográfico which was made by Candela.

    Santiago Calatrava is famous worldwide for his balanced constructions and light structures, he was awarded in 1999 with the Price Príncipe Felipe in Arts thanks to his “original understanding of volume and the new materials and technologies use in the search of an innovating esthetic”. Some of his most famous works are: Alamillo bridge in Sevilla, the Telecommunication Tower of Montjuic in Barcelona, the train station at Saint-Exupéry in Lyon (former Satolas), Alameda Bridge in Valencia, The Orient Station in Lisboa, the International Airport of Bilbao, the Europe Bridge in Orléans in France, the Olympic complex of Athena (OAKA), etc.

    Félix Candela was mexican with spanish origins and was specialized in paraboloid structures. He realized the following buildings: Chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad and the market in Coyoacán (district of Mexico), the metro stations San Lázaro, Candelaria and Merced on line 1 in Mexico, the Olympic Games Sports Palace of Mexico as an engineer, etc. He is the one who realized the Oceanogràfic.

    The Sciences Museum is an architectural, modern prodigy, made of geometric lines and ongoing challenges to gravity looking like a dinosaur skeleton. Next to it, we can find a blinking eye converted into a planetarium, a place to park hidden by a path where plants climb up between sculptures and palm trees, a gigantic aquarium in the shape of a water lily, a big ship where you can listen to classical music and opera. A little bit further, stands the Ágora, a polyvalent space with the vocation of being a meeting point that was inaugurated by welcoming the tennis open of the Community of Valencia in November 2009.

    This complex is marked by the water and plants profusion, that makes this place very pleasant not only to enjoy yourself but also to relax.

    Tourists attracted by this curiosity that seems out of a science fiction movie wonder if that space is real… and what about you?

    Did you know?

    Some shots of this place with the buildings outline were used to put in the background of the nurse shuttle of the remake of the series “V”.

    Tour

    Different guided tours are offered to tourists at the City of Arts and Sciences. You will get complete information of every building of this place and about their architecture. You will also have access to some restricted areas to the public. Tours last between one hour and a half and two hours and you will walk along the two kilometers of the complex in the former bed of the river Turia. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about this extraordinary place!

    How do you get there

    Car

    Autopista del Saler
    Highway A-7 and road N-340 : that crosses the community of Valencia from north to south.
    Highway A-3: that links Madrid to Valencia
    National 234: that connects Valencia to Aragón, Castilla-León and the north of the Peninsula.

    Train

    Valencia possesses two stations: El Cabanyal and the North station from which you can get buses that drive you to the City of Arts and Sciences.
    Information and timetable on: www.renfe.com

    Bus

    The Valencia bus station is located on the border of the former river Turia. Some regular bus lines arrive from all over Spain. To access to the City of Arts and Sciences from this station, you need to cross the former river and take the bus nº95 of EMT.

    The lines going to the City of Arts and Sciences are the EMT buses nº13, 14, 15 (from the city hall square) and 19, 35, 95, 40.

    More information on: www.emtvalencia.es (Spanish or Catalan).

    Metro

    The closest metro lines are nº 3, 5 et 7. It is recommended to stop at Alameda stop that is around 15 minutes walking from the City of Arts and Sciences.
    More information on: www.metrovalencia.com (Spanish, Valencia language or English)

    Walking

    By the gardens on the former bed of the river Turia.

    Addresses and localization

    Official web of the City of Arts and Sciences: www.cac.es (Valencia language, Spanish and English)
    Phone: 00 34 902 100 031 (Phone from monday to friday: 9:00 – 18:00 / weekend and holidays: 10:00 – 14:00)

  • Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe (Museum of Sciences) :
    Avda. del Professor López Piñero (Historiador de la Medicina) nº 7 – 46013 Valencia.
    39º 27′ 23” N, 0º 21′ 10” W
  • Hemisfèric:
    Avda. del Professor López Piñero (Historiador de la Medicina) nº3 – 46013 Valencia.
    39º 27′ 22” N, 0º 21′ 12” W
  • Oceanográfic:
    Calle Eduardo Primo Yúfera (Científic), nº 1B. 46013. Valencia.
    39º 27′ 9” N, 0º 20′ 53” W
  • Umbracle:
    Avda. del Professor López Piñero (Historiador de la Medicina) nº 5. Valencia
    39º 27′ 15” N, 0º 21′ 7” W
  • Ágora:
    Calle Eduardo Primo Yúfera (Científic), nº 1A. – 46013 Valencia.
    39º 27′ 13” N, 0º 21′ 0” W