La Lonja de Seda (the Silk Exchange) has, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful instances of architecture in Valencia. As the name indicates, La Lonja was a center of commerce during Valencia’s glory days. The main attraction is the hall of columns, but the whole building is definitely worth seeing–inside and out.
The building encircles a courtyard of what seemed to be clementine or mandarin orange trees. From there you can look up at the facade of the building and the steps leading up to the main rooms.
For me, the best part of looking around outside is being able to admire the lacy stone work of the Gothic windows.
Once you step inside the main room, it takes some time to realize that the gallery includes more than palm tree-like columns.
These soaring columns capture the attention, drawing the eyes up the spirals to the simply ornamented ceiling.
The room seems designed to make its occupants feel small, from the towering columns to rather massive doors at the ends of the room.
An exception to this can be found in a small, four foot tall, opening in one of the walls, through which spiraling stairs can be seen (but not taken by the public).
As we moved to leave La Lonja and enter the adjoining rooms of the Consolat del Mar, we noticed that light from the stained glass windows dappled the doorway.
Although they are darker and seem more cramped after the airy-ness of the high-ceilinged gallery, the other rooms have their own beauty to show: detailed paneled ceilings, and decorative light fixtures stood out to me.
Finally, the first floor room, formerly used as a debtor’s prison for businessmen, showcased a relatively simple yet beautifully arched ceiling.