So I cheated a little on this one. I accidentally asked a Mexican, not a local, what his favourite building in the city was. I’m letting it count because I liked his reasons for choosing this building.
Jaume told me that his favourite building in Valencia is the silk exchange (la lonja de la seda). His reason being that it has served so many different purposes throughout its lifetime. It was initially built to replace the old exchange due to the increasing prosperity in Valencia around the 13th century. It was not only used as a form of stock exchange where gold and (as the name suggests) silk were traded, but also for administrative purposes. It also contained a chapel, a prison and an orange grove. It still has a close connection with trade due to its proximity to the central market (another contender for “beautiful buildings” in Valencia). Jaume is my source for all this information, which made me realise just how much he admires it – perhaps he’s been asked this question before!
Jaume felt that having witnessed so much within its walls it was so much more representative of Valencian history and culture than many of the other buildings for which Valencia is famous. It was still a pretty tough decision to have made considering the mass of beautiful architecture in Valencia. As he pointed out, tour guides run a whole separate tour just to see the modern architecture on offer.