La Lonja (The Silk Exchange)
Lonja, 2 - 46001 - València
TOURISTIC AREA: Historical center
The Lonja 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 July1931 and was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1996.
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. At the end of the 13th century, as a result of the prosperity in València 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. 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 València 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.