Spain Update: Madrid Edition

Goya painting in the Chapel of St. Anthony (taken with iPhone)
Goya painting in the Chapel of St. Anthony (taken with iPhone)
I’m still being kept busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest here in Spain. Since my last update:

  • I spent three nights in the “blogger suite” in a hotel in Benidorm overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Fantastic view. Benidorm is a city I had never heard of before arriving in Spain, but it is a huge destination for tourists from the UK.
  • Went to visit some ancient rock art in the city of Alcoi, but was washed out due to rain
  • Visited my 112th World Heritage Site, the Palmeral of Elche. It is a forest of plam trees inside the city which was originally created by the Arabs.
  • Stayed a night in Alicante and explored the city including the old castle overlooking the sea.
  • Spent a very hectic 2 days in Madrid. (I’ll be coming back later. I know there is no way you can experience Madrid in two days.)
  • Visited the Prado and Reina Sophia, two of the greatest museums in the world
  • Ate lunch at the oldest restaurant in the world, the Casa Botin in Madrid, which has been operating continuously since 1725. It was the favorite restaurant of Earnest Hemingway and was where the ending of “The Sun Also Rises” takes place.
  • Got to have said lunch in Hemingway’s favorite table in the restaurant, drinking his favorite wine (Rioja Altas) as well as the restaurant’s speciality, suckling pig.

I’m currently in the north of Spain in Bilbao, the largest city in Basque Country. I’ll be here until the 10th when I fly to Barcelona. Most days packed full activities. I have a very long list of articles I’ll be writing once things slow down and I have a chance to edit some photos (of which I have a lot).

…oh, and for everyone who suggested I visit San Sebastin, I’ll be going there in the next few days!

Learning Spanish

Houses in Valencia
Houses in Valencia
My time in Valencia (both the province and the city) have been wonderful. I’ve been kept in constant movement since I’ve arrived either getting tours, giving speeches, or in lengthy Spanish dinners and lunches. That, plus some extremely poor internet connectivity over the weekend, means I haven’t had much time to write or process my photos. I have uploaded some photos which you can see by clicking on the image to the right.

It will be a few days before some of my longer posts with images make it to the site, but I would like to rattle off a quick update regarding something I’ve been working on since I’ve arrived in Spain: learning Spanish. Continue reading “Learning Spanish”

La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

World Heritage Site #111: La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia, Spain
La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia: My 111th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for 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 center 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.

The shocking thing about La Lonja isn’t that it is a World Heritage Site, it is that the other things around it in central Valencia are not. The Lonja itself is a very simple building today with an empty interior. It is one of many buildings in the old city of Valencia which is part of its rich merchant history. Pay close attention to the gargoyles on the exterior of the building and some of the internal stone carvings around the doors. You will find some shocking surprises.

Overview

La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Spain. It was designated in 1996 and is a monument recognized into the list of Spanish Property of Cultural Interest. Known as Silk Exchange globally, this building in Valencia features a Valencian Gothic-style. It is also one of the top tourist attractions in the city of Valencia, Spain. The structure was built from 1482 to 1548 and is divided into three parts: main hall, the side wing and the central tower.

About La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

The Silk Market, the other term for La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia, is an important monument in the city since it is a showcase of amazing civil Gothic architecture. This building is a project of renowned architect Pere Compte. The building is reminiscent of old Medieval castles that have a rigid appearance and are made of stone walls, just like a fortress. Each of the main parts of the room are distinguished by their purpose, not just for their structural differences.

The 15th century, the time when this structure was built on, also marks the golden age of Valencia. This is the time when the city has reached its economic and cultural height. The visitors who have been to this building are spell-bound by the palm-tree-shaped columns that are in the main hall, along with its enigmatic carvings. La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia also overlooks the historic Plaza del Mercado, which is one of the most important parts of this historic region.

Historical Importance

In addition to the architectural masterpiece that is the La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia, it also served an important historical and cultural value to the city of Valencia. During the 15th century, this building served as the site of various mercantile transactions. These merchant and trade activities were deemed as important to the flourishing of the city’s economic status during the medieval period. The structure was also built on the commercial and urban center of Valencia, which makes the building of the Silk Exchange necessary.

The main building of La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia is enclosed within a courtyard and garden. Hence, the entire complex is located within a massive rectangle layout. The majestic Contract Hall is one of the most important parts of this building – this is where the commercial deals were struck amongst the most important merchants of the city.

Due to the trade and commercial activity that it played a role in building, La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia is a shrine of commerce for Valencia. And as such, it has also become a symbol of the city.

Practical Tips for Visitors

If you are curious to explore La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia and its interior features, you need to take note of the following practical information before you go:

  • The La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 AM to 2PM and 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM. And on Sundays and public holidays, it is open from 10AM to 3 PM. The building is closed to the public on Mondays.
  • The average ticket price for entry to this building is 2 Euros, and 1 Euro for children and pensioners. However, entry is free on weekends and public holidays.
  • To get to La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia, you need to take any of the following bus routes: 5b, 7, 27, 28, 60, 62, and 81.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:58 pm