Valencia, famous for its gastronomy, modern architecture, historical plazas with grand fountains and four unrivalled sandy beaches, is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Silk Exchange or La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia is said to be unique for its Gothic architecture and Renaissance decoration. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization decided that the building, constructed between 1482 and 1533, is a masterpiece and that the grandiose Sala de Contratación (Contract or Trading Hall), in particular, illustrated the power and wealth of a major Mediterranean mercantile city in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Its original function was as a trading exchange for oil. It developed into the main maritime trading centre and the silk exchange. It is still used for trading today but mainly for buying and selling agricultural products.
From the outside, the grand tower – reminiscent of fairy tale castles – and arched windows give a hint of what is in store inside, with the traditional gothic gargoyles decorating the exterior walls.
Inside, the sight of spiral staircases, a vaulting roof, intricately detailed ceilings and marble floors explain why completion of this market took so long.
As the home of the Cultural Academy of Valencia, the Silk Exchange is host to a range of exhibitions and events throughout the year.