vrijdag 2 november 2012

Spain, La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

Built between 1482 and 1533, this group of buildings was originally used for trading in silk (hence its name, the Silk Exchange) and it has always been a centre for commerce. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The grandiose Sala de Contratación (Contract or Trading Hall), in particular, illustrates the power and wealth of a major Mediterranean mercantile city in the 15th and 16th centuries.



La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia is an exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities. It is aesthetically unique of its kind, because of its fine Gothic architecture and Renaissance decoration of the Mediterranean art of the 15th century. It is a typical representation of the commercial and financial past of the City of Valencia which has been used for the same purpose for five centuries.
In 1469 the decision was taken to build a new Lonja (exchange or market) in Valencia. It was not until 1482 that the city authorities purchased houses on the site chosen for the building, but work began at the end of that year under the direction of the architects Pedro Compte, Juan lborra and Johan Corbera. The entire complex, including the Consulado and the garden, was not finished until 1533, under the direction of Domingo de Urteaga. Its original function was as a trading exchange for oil. It developed into the main maritime trading centre and the silk exchange, and housed the commercial institution known as the Consolat de Mar, which was founded in 1283, and the Taula de Convis i Deposits, a banking institution. At the present time it is still a major trading exchange, now dealing primarily in agricultural products.
The land occupied by the Lonja is rectangular in plan. About half of the total area is covered by the main Sala de Contratación; the Tower (including the Chapel), the Consulado, and the large garden complete the ensemble. The entire building is constructed in limestone from Masarrochos. The Sala de Contratación is a magnificent hall, in Flamboyant Gothic style like the rest of the ensemble. The lofty interior is divided into three main aisles by five rows of slender spiral pillars from which spring the elegant vaulting of the roof. The floor is of different coloured marbles from AIcublas. A Latin inscription in Gothic characters runs round the walls, which proclaims the principles upon which trade within the hall is based: honesty of its traders and justice of its syndics. It is lit by soaring Gothic windows, the external frames of which, like the doors, are exuberantly ornamented, notably by a series of grotesque gargoyles. In the centre of the main facade on the Plaza del Mercado is the imposing doorway, crowned by an image of the Virgen del Rosario, and above the royal arms of Aragon. The same architectonic scheme is repeated at the other end of the hall. This building, like the rest of the ensemble, is crenellated.
Access to the Chapel (dedicated to the Conception of the Virgin), which forms the ground floor of the tower, is from the Sala de Contratación. It is square in plan, with vaulting springing from corner column clusters. Access to the upper floors of the tower is via a remarkable helical stone staircase. The room on the first floor was originally a prison for bankrupt traders.
The Consulado building rises to three storeys: it is now the seat of the Cultural Academy of Valencia and serves as the venue for many exhibitions and other cultural activities. It is a later form of Gothic and equally exuberant in the decoration of its facades, especially on the upper floor, where the windows have highly decorated sills and lintels and are crowned by portrait medallions. The interior is notable for the carved decoration, gilded and painted, in the chamber on the first floor, known as the Cambra Dourada.
The environs of the Lonja retain close links with the history of the building and preserve its role. The large Market Hall, with its metal framing of 1914-28, is built on the site of the original market, whose activities were intimately associated with the Lonja.
Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

Historical Description

In 1469 the decision was taken to build a new Lonja (exchange or market) in Valencia. It was not until 1482 that the City authorities Purchased houses on the site chosen for the building, but work began at the end of that year under the direction Of the architects Pedro (Pere) Compte, Juan lborra (Yvarra), and Johan Corbera. The main Sala de Contratación (Contract or Trading Hall) and the tower were completed in 1498, and derived its inspiration from the Lonja de Palma de Mallorca, built in 1426-48; the entire complex, including the Consulado (Consolat) and the garden, was not finished until 1533, under the direction of Domingo de Urteaga.
Its original function was as a trading exchange for oil. It developed into the main maritime trading centre and the silk exchange, and housed the commercial institution known as the "Consolat de Mar," which was founded in 1283, and the Taula de Convis i Deposits, a banking institution established in 1408 and named after the table (taula) over which its transactions took place. At the present time it is still a major trading exchange, now dealing primarily in agricultural products.
The Lonja is also the seat of the Cultural Academy of Valencia. As such it serves as the venue for many exhibitions and other cultural activities.

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