Discover why the city of Valencia has been a reference in the historic Silk Route; even as of today it is perceived in the neighborhood of Velluters (now El Pilar) and in buildings such as the Lonja de la Seda (Old Silk Market) and the College of the Greater Art of Silk. Also in the best valencian traditions: the impressive dresses of the Falleras and the costumes of the Falleros. The importance of Valencia on the Silk Road has been recognized by UNESCO; in 2016 the Second World Encounter “Valencia, City of Silk 2016” was held – to spread the cultural and natural heritage and art on the Silk Route and with it the idea of sustainable tourism.
Valencia's history with silk
It was through the spread of Islam in the Mediterranean that silk arrived on the Iberian Peninsula. The first worms and mulberry leaves from China entered Valencia from Al-Andalus. The mulberry trees were cultivated in the valencian market-gardens and in the city, specifically in the neighborhood of Velluters, the fabric was made. Velluters comes from vellut, which means velvet in Valencian. In this neighborhood there were more than 5,000 registered workshops; the quality of the fabrics and the prosperity of the guild led king Carlos II to grant in 1686 the title of College of the Greater Art of Silk, now known as the Silk Museum.
Another emblematic building is the Palace of the Tamarit, an old silk workshop.
La Lonja de la Seda - Silk Market
One of Valencia's most important landmarks
If you’re ever wondering what to visit one day in Valencia, La Lonja should be among your priorities. Built intermittently between 1482 and 1548 with a valencian gothic style, it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1996. You will be impressed by this masterpiece of Valencia’s golden age; it represents the wealth of the city at that time. The Lonja de la Seda (Silk Market) or Mercaderes (Merchants Market) is an authentic treasure of civil gothic with its 24 helicoidal columns of 17 meters high; a beautiful inner courtyard with orange trees; and the Sea Consulate, with a beautiful wood paneling on its roof.
The College of the Greater Art of Silk
Now open as Silk Museum
Thanks to a profound restoration in 2016, you can now visit this spectacular building.
The College of the Greater Art of the Silk was established in the XVth century, before the need to unify the criteria for the production of silk in Valencia given the conflicts that originated by the lack of quality of some producers. This is how the “Gremi de Velluters” (velvet weavers guild) was born, which approved the first ordinances of the guild on February 16t, 1479. Ordinances that were officially ratified by King Ferdinand the Catholic on October 13, 1479. The Guild was elevated to the College of the Greater Art of Silk by means of the title granted to them by King Carlos II in 1686.
The plot of the current building was acquired in 1494, but the building (which was declared a national historical-artistic monument in 1981) underwent various architectural transformations throughout its history, so it shows a mainly Baroque style.
High-lights are its Hall of Fame and the Chapel as well as its historical archive.
You can visit the Silk Museum every day except Monday. From Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.