The Silk Exchange in Valencia is an evocative monument to the role of commerce in European civilisation over many centuries, and one of the most eloquent expressions of the late Gothic style. Its architectural qualities and historical significance were recognised in 1996 when it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Construction began in 1469, when it was intended as a market for olive oil. The architect Pere Compte based the design on a building in Palma de Mallorca. The most impressive components of the market, the crenellated tower and the Sola de Contratacion (trading hall), which has a vaulted roof, 16 m high, were completed by Compte in 1498. Other buildings were added by Juan Yvarra and John Corbera up to 1533, and include elements of the Renaissance style.
The market was used for trading silk but was also served as a floor for dealing in commodities, and as a consulate. It consists of four principal parts, the tower, the trading hall, the consulate room and an interior garden lined with orange trees. The Exchange is currently occupied by the Cultural Academy of Valencia, but is regularly open to visitors.