Situated in the heart of the historical city centre of Valencia and just a few metres from the bustling public library on the Calle Hospital, lies the building known as the ‘Colegio del Arte Mayor de la Seda’, the School of Silk Art. This impressive building dates back to the 15th century, a period when the silk industry was booming thanks to the influx of Genoese artesans, establishing the guild of silk-makers, the ‘Gremi de Velluters’ in 1492.
Between the 15th and 18th century, the silk trade in Valencia and its province was gaining significant ground, both in Spain and on an international scale. More than 3,800 weaving workshops were set up in the area surrounding the building, giving the district the name of the ‘Barrio de Velluters’ (‘vellut’ means silk in Valencian).
In 1686, a privilege was granted by King Charles II of Spain to the ‘Gremi de Velluters’, which from then on was known as the ‘Colegio del Arte Mayor de la Seda’. The building impresses with the magnificent open-air interior courtyard and the façade with a Baroque-style door, which features above it the engraving of the cardinal hat of Saint Jerome, the patron saint of the School. A distinct feature of the interior is the boardroom which boasts an 18th-century tiled floor representing the Allegory of Fame.
The School is currently housing a small museum about silk-making with different looms, as well as original documents which make up a historical archive of vital importance about the silk industry in Valencia, in Spain and Europe.
Today, the building is in a state of deterioration and because of a lack of public funds, Valencians themselves are taking action to draw attention to this important part of the city’s historical heritage. On 19 September, the web page specialising in Valencian design, DissenyCV (www.dissenycv.es) will organise a meeting of experts and companies of various design fields in Valencia, holding a raffle event to collect money for the restoration of the School with various art pieces and furniture donated by studios and businesses.