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VALENCIA: The Lonja de la Seda




The Lonja de la Seda or 'old silk exchange'  is tucked into a medieval street near the Mercado Central, up a flight of steps. It is one of the principal tourist attractions in Valencia, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

 The design of the new Lonja of Valencia was derived from a similar structure in the Lonja of Palma de Majorca, built by the architect Guillem Sagrera in 1448.

The architect in charge of the new Lonja was Pere Compte, who built the main body of the building – the Trading Hall (or Sala de Contractaci√≥ in Valencian) – in only fifteen years (1483–1498).

A blue band runs along all four walls of the Trading Hall, also called "Hall of Columns". It proclaims in golden letters the following inscription:

Inclita domus sum annis aedificata quindecim. Gustate et videte concives quoniam bona est negotiatio, quae non agit dolum in lingua, quae jurat proximo et non deficit, quae pecuniam non dedit ad usuram eius. Mercator sic agens divitiis redundabit, et tandem vita fructur aeterna.

According to the local Valencian scholar Joan Francesc Mira, this inscription showed that it was not a necessary to be a Protestant or a foreigner to establish the basis of a good trade. It also showed the union of ethics and economy.

Visitors first arrive by climbing steps through heavy doors into a beautiful soaring Gothic hall whose ceiling is held up by graceful twisting columns. 

This ceiling was once painted blue, adorned with stars.

The columns and the ribs etched into the ceiling represent palms, emblematic of honest business dealings. This venue served as a commodity exchange at the heyday of Valencia's power, a period dating from around the mid-1400s well into the 16th century.

The grand hall lets out onto an enclosed orange garden on one side, and to a small room like a chapel with leaded windows, which itself leads onto a Baroque chamber with heavy wooden coffered ceilings.

 Above that hall is another large assembly room. These two rooms served as courts.

However, there is a couple of problems with La Lonja. 

There is almost no visitor information and the place looks as though it has been robbed. 

Besides the table where the staff take your money the buildings are almost completely empty.

There is no sense of history, and no attempt to tell the story of this fantastic building.

If you speak Spanish - and I don't -then the guide tours are supposed to be good. At the end of the day, they need to take a few leaves out of the national Trust book of how to appropriately dress a historic property.

For related articles click onto:
VALENCIA: The Lonja de la Seda
VALENCIA: The Turia River
Based on an article from http://gospain.about.com/od/valenci1/tp/Things-To-Do-In-Valencia-Spain.htm Images care of http://objetivocomunitat.lasprovincias.es/fotos-Roberto/buques-encallados-saler-1260785.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Lonja_de_la_Seda
Images care mostly of me and http://hert1302.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/valenica-revisited-part-two-la-lonja-de.html

1 comment:

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