La Lonja is an emblematic building of the city and one of the most famous civil Gothic monuments in Europe. Declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in July 1931, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1996.
It is located in the center of the city, in front of the central market and the temple of Santos Juanes. It occupies a rectangular area of 1,990 square meters. At the end of the 13th century, due to the prosperity of Valencia at that time, the old Lonja became insufficient and it was decided to create a new exchange.
The first stone was laid in 1492, although construction began a year later. Pere Compte, a Valencian engineer and architect, was the main actor involved in its construction. There are three clearly defined sections and a garden or “orange courtyard”.
The Colonnade or Contracting Hall is divided into three longitudinal and five transverse naves with eight columns supporting the vaulted ceiling. Its height of 17.40 meters gives the columns a particular sense of size and proportions.
The Taula de Canvis, created in 1407, was placed in this room by the municipal council and acquired great prestige for its solvency and banking operations. The Taula or the table used for transactions, as well as the first bill of exchange drawn up in Spain, are preserved in the municipal archives of València.
The tower is the second part of the building. On the first floor there is a small chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The two upper floors were used as a prison for those who had renounced their debts.