Valencia Silk Route
Since 2015, Valencia has been part of the UNESCO and World Tourism Organisation programmes to promote the Silk Road Programme, a concept coined by a German geographer in 1877 to identify a series of trade routes for goods such as silk, ceramics, and spices from China to Europe.
In the Valencian neighbourhood of Velluters (which means velvet makers) there were around 5,000 silk looms at the end of the 18th century. Today, it still retains its old flavour with large mansions, such as the Tamarit Palace, and a tangled maze of streets that allow us to understand the importance of this industry between the 15th and 18th centuries in Valencia. It is in this neighbourhood where the Colegio del Arte Mayor de la Seda (College of High Silk Art), established in 1686 and which today houses the Museo de la Seda (Silk Museum), is located. A Baroque-style building, it houses the largest guild archive in Europe, a fine collection of silk fabrics, and 18th-century looms that can be seen in operation. This is the place to start the Valencia Silk Road, a route with several stops that reveals the valuable historical, architectural, and artistic legacy left by the silk trade in the city.
It was the expansion of Islam into the Mediterranean that introduced silk to the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century. Soon the trade in this material became the city’s main economic source, and this generated intense business activity that led to the construction of the most relevant Gothic civil building in the city in 1483, the Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), today the nerve centre of the route. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 and consists of four parts that may be visited: the Salón Columnario (Hall of Columns), where the negotiations took place, the Consulado del Mar (Consulate of the Sea), the Salón Principal (Hall of Fame) and the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Garden Courtyard).
The Museo Nacional de Cerámica (National Museum of Ceramics) would be the next stop. Here you will find examples of priceless merchandise, as well as the most important collection of ceramics in Spain and the best example of Baroque architecture in the country.
The tour continues in another of the city’s unique palaces, the Malferit Palace, which houses the Museo L'Iber de Soldaditos de Plomo Museum (L’Iber Tin Soldiers Museum). There, between courtyards and Gothic-style rooms, a complete room dedicated to the Silk Road awaits the visitor.
Other vestiges of the Road can be found in the paintings exhibited in the Museo de Bellas Artes y El Patriarca (Museum of Fine Arts and El Patriarca), with characters dressed in luxurious silk fabrics, and in the religious clothing exhibited in the Cathedral Museum. Traditional Valencian clothing, which has survived thanks to the city's most famous festival, Las Fallas, is also a living legacy of the Valencian silk industry and can be seen in many shops in Valencia.
Discover the hidden threads of the Silk Road in Valencia. A walking tour through the Velluters neighbourhood, the Silk Museum, the Silk Exchange (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the typical Valencian costume shops.
This route lasts approximately two hours, including the time spent inside the buildings, and starts at the Silk Exchange and ends in the area where there are many shops selling Valencian clothing.
TYPE OF ROUTE: On foot
APPROX. DURATION: 2 hours including time spent inside the buildings.
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