If somebody tells you that La Lonja was the old fish market it´s not true – La Lonja was the Maritime Stock Exchange where the Guild of Mariners were based. It was built by the famous architect of the 15th Century Guillem (William in English) Sagrera by the order of the then Chamber of Commerce between the years 1426 and 1447 thereby creating a pearl in the Gothic Art of Palma.
La Lonja was created to host meetings of the various retailers; in its time therefore, a sort of Congress Centre! At the start of the 15th Century Palma had some 25 Commercial representatives dealing with other territories and in this “exchange hall” they convoked their assemblies to report and discuss trade. The rich façade and the overall construction stated that Palma was then, and forever one of the most wealthy fishing industries of the Mediterranean and it was this abundance of money that permitted the creation of one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Spain.
In the present day it is used for festive occasions and also official receptions for visiting dignitaries, such as the impressive visit of late German President Johanes Rau in the Autumn of 2002. Today it also hosts many great and prestigious exhibitions.
The narrow streets that surround La Lonja have been for many years populated with tapas bars and restaurants and thus it has a thriving, vibrant nightlife often to the annoyance of the neighbours who would rather sleep. On weekends it’s not unheard of for the fun to continue through till dawn.
In honour of La Lonja’s architect, Guillermo Sagrera, there is a section of the street in front of the building dedicated to him. Called Paseo Sagrera it is often confused with the Paseo Maritimo, which is in fact one street closer to the sea.
This beautiful Paseo with its tall Palm trees was commisioned by the Town Hall in 1930 and it is a favourite place to enjoy the pleasures of a tranquil city stroll. The benches in front of the buildings façade invite one to pause and reflect.
A walk through history that is most surely worth it!