Attached at the feet of the Royal Chapel and as a vestibule for visiting it, you’ll find what originally was the Lonja de Mercederes (Medieval Merchants’ Exchange Market), one of the clearest examples of late gothic civil architecture in Granada.
The decision to build a market was made by the Municipal Government in 1518, as house of trade for merchant meetings and business and for checking precision of the weights and measures.
Furthermore, a special bank specifically linked to the silk trade was established, since this was a key commodity in Granada’s economy in the 14th and 15th centuries located in the Alcaicería.
Choosing a location would be based, firstly, on being close to City Hall (then located in the Palacio de la Madraza) and secondly, on being at the heart of the city’s commercial and financial activity.
The original project, later modified, consisted of a one story rectangular building open to outside with high arches. It is believed that the initial project must have been done by Enrique Egas, as an extension of the first project of the Cathedral-Royal Chapel.
Building the Medieval Market
There was strong opposition to its construction by the Royal Chapel, which argued it was owner of the land and that the proximity of commercial activity would be disadvantageous for religious activity. Faced with a lawsuit resulting from the dispute, the Chancilleria adopted a reconciliatory agreement that approved the construction of the market, but the Royal Chapel was allowed to build a second floor on top of it for its own use. The building is fairly small compared to typical market exchange buildings from the time period.
The municipal government soon gave up the idea of establishing a market exchange building here and after a variety of uses, in the 18th century it was sold as a private building.
At the end of the same century it was purchased by the archbishop in order to house the Diocesan Museum, and at present it is the archive and library for the Capilla Real.
The current state of the lower part is completely see-through, partially opening the exterior arches with smooth glass, due to a recent restoration headed by Pedro Salmerón Escobar. The hall is now used as an entrance lobby for the Capilla, which has entailed adding some furniture, portraits of kings and a copy done by Manuel Gómez-Moreno of the painting of the Rendición de Granada (Surrender of Granada) by Franciso Pradilla. The coffered ceiling on the lower floor stands out in particular.
The Lonja de Mercaderes is a part of the route for our Granada Must-Do Tour