About the time Columbus discovered America, Valencia was a very rich city specializing in the trading of silk. The silk market reflected the prestige and wealth of the city.
Inside, on the trading floor, is this inscription, translated from the original Latin:
“I am an illustrious house built in fifteen years. Try and see, fellow-citizens, how negotiation is such a good thing when there is no lie in the speech, when it swears to the neighbor and does not deceive him, when it does not lend money with an interest charge for its use. The merchant who acts this way will prosper galore and at the end he will enjoy eternal life.”
The story our guide told was less noble. Supposedly, each merchant stood behind a wooden table and when a shady deal was discovered, that merchant’s table had a bit of its legs sawed off. This made finding reputable traders easier, while making life a bit less comfortable for dishonest merchants.
The trading floor is more like a cathedral than a market, with a high ceiling supported by carved, spiral columns. It’s intended to feel like a grove of palm trees, and was once painted to have sky and stars.
There are two other amazing ceilings in the market. The first is this vaulted wooden ceiling.
The second is also made from wood, which was almost its downfall. After the golden age of silk commerce, the silk market fell into disrepair, and there were plans to demolish the building. Much of the wood inside was burned as firewood. Here is a carved ceiling that very nearly became ashes.
Each carving is unique. There are no duplicates. Apologies for my unsteady picture, but here is a telephoto shot of just one carving.
As a temple of commerce, the market is well protected by gargoyles.
But this temple also urges those who enter to leave their vices outside. How does it give this advice? By graphic display, of course. Examples: