The Silk Exchange Market
Valencia’s Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), one of Europe’s most important civic buildings in terms of gothic architecture, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It was constructed in the 15th century and comprises two parts divided by a tower. The 28 gargoyles that serve as part of the roof drainage system are a characteristic element of the facade and come in the form of fantastic animals, monsters and people. The interior is divided between three separate rooms with a garden at the far end called the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard). The three rooms are the Sala de Contratación (Contract Hall), which holds the first promissory note ever written in Spain; the Torreón (Tower), whose spiral staircase climbs to the upper floors which formerly served as a prison for late-paying merchants; and the Consulado del Mar (The Consulate of the Sea), where Maritime commerce disputes were resolved.