FAMOUS BUILDINGS: “THE SILK EXCHANGE” IN VALENCIA (1B2)
LAST WEEK WE TALKED AND LISTENED ABOUT WESTMINSTER ABBEY. WHAT FAMOUS BUILDINGS IN YOUR TOWN OR COUNTRY WOULD YOU LIKE TO WRITE ABOUT?
The Lonja (SILK EXCHANGE) is an emblematic building of the city and one of the most famous civil gothic monuments in Europe. It was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in July1 931 and was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1996.
- WHERE IS IT? “The Lonja” is located in the centre of the city – in front of the Central Market and the Temple of Santos Juanes – and occupies a rectangular area of 1.990 square metres.
- WHEN WAS IT BUILT? At the end of the 13th century, as a result of the prosperity in Valencia at the time, the old Lonja became insufficient and it was decided to build a new Exchange. The first stone was laid in 1492, although the construction was started a year later. Pere Compte, a Valencian engineer and architect, was the principal figure involved in its construction.
- WHAT WAS IT USED FOR ORIGINALLY?It was used not only for trading with agricultural oils, but for all kind of business. Valencia’s commercial prosperity reached its peak during the 15th century, and led to the construction of a new building.During subsequent centuries, La Lonja functioned as a silk exchange. The honesty of its traders is honored by the inscription that runs around the main contract hall.
- WHAT IS IT USED FOR NOW? Today it is used to host the James I awards ceremony among many other things. It´s a public building and can also be visited by tourists and locals alike.
- WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT IT WHEN YOU WERE THERE?There are three clearly defined sections and a garden or “orange patio”. The Columnario or Sala de Contratación is divided into three longitudinal and five transversal naves with eight columns that support the domed ceiling. Its height of 17.40 meters gives the columns a special sense of size and proportion. The Taula de Canvis, set up in 1407, was located in this room by the municipal council and gained great prestige for its solvency and banking operations. The Taula or Table used for the transactions, as well as the first Bill of Exchange written in Spain are kept in the Valencia Municipal archive. The Torreón is the second section of the building while on the ground floor there is a small chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The two upper floors were used as a prison for those who reneged on their debts.
- HOW LONG DID YOU SPEND THERE? About 90 minutes
- HOW MUCH DID YOU HAVE TO PAY TO VISIT IT? I did´t have to spend a penny . If you visit it on a Sunday, it´s free.
- WOULD YOU RECOMMEND VISITING IT? Of course. It´s worth a visit
WHY DON´T YOU WRITE A DESCRIPTION OF AN INTERESTING BUILDING IN YOUR TOWN OR COUNTRY TO BE PUBLISHED IN A TOURISM WEBSITE?
YOU CAN FOLLOW THE STEPS ON PAGE 81 OR THE ONES ON PAGE 119