Lonja de la Seda in Valencia
Lonja de la Seda

Brief history

The Lonja is the building that best exemplifies the flourishing wealth of Valencia’s Golden Age, the 15th century. The reason why this piece of Valencian civil gothic architecture exists as we know it today is the commercial boom experienced at the time.

During this period, commerce became the basis of the Valencian economy, and the city became a pivotal point of exchange, in terms of the Mediterranean area. It had trade relations with cities in France, Italy and North Africa. The city became rich and grew in demographic, cultural, and artistic terms.

  • Before 1238The origins of the ExchangeWhen the Santos Juaneschurch was still a mosque, under Moorish rule, the space was already an area of tradesmen and merchants.
  • Late 13th-early 14th centuryAn early ExchangeIn Plaça del Doctor Collado, the old Exchange already existed. It was known as Llotja de l’Oli, meaning Oil Exchange, even though other mercantile operations were carried out, too.
  • 14th-15th centuryValencia’s Golden AgeValencia was living a time of prosperity and development, unaffected by the political problems in Catalonia and Aragon. With this commercial revolution, the local bourgeoisie acquired strength and prestige. The acquisition of capital by the emerging middle-classes meant that the city needed a new exchange to meet its needs and showcase its power.
  • 1469Project plansWhen the old Exchange proved to be insufficient, the Consell General de la Ciutat (General City Council) decided to construct a new building to meet the conditions and facilities required by Valencia’s booming trade. This was an institution created in the mid-1200s with the aim of organising local public life in the name of the king.
  • 1481Architects chosenPere Compte and other stonemasons and architects were selected for the construction of the building.
  • 1482The landThe City counsel demolished 25 houses to obtain a plot of land for the new building. The first stone was officially laid there on 7th November 1482.
  • 1483Beginning of constructionThe construction officially began on 5th February 1483.
  • 1506Pere Compte’s deathThe main architect, Pere Compte, died in 1506 without having seen the completion of his work. Works on the Consulate Pavilion continue without him.
  • 1548Construction endsThe Lonja was finally completed after 66 years. It was referred to as Lonja de los Mercaderes (Merchants' Exchange) or Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) because of the activities carried out under its roof.
  • 1701–1762Military stationThe building was used by the military as a temporary accomodation.
  • 1854–1855HospitalThe building was used as a makeshift hospital during the cholera wave.
  • 1939Spanish ParliamentThe building was used to house the Republican government at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1995World Heritage statusUNESCO declared the site a World Heritage Site in December 1995.