The ‘Museo de la Seda’ is a hub of rich history and culture nestled in the heart of Valencia’s ‘Velluters’ barrio. Delve into the story of Valencia’s silk trade with a journey beginning in the 1400s to the present day. This remarkable institution showcases Valencian architecture infused with Gothic elements, mosaics and murals. Dating back to the 15th century, this establishment holds tangible elements of Valencian history, having been the epicentre for silk production and the study of this interesting art form.The museum is open to the public and offers a journey through time from the start of the Arab conquest to the modern day, immersing visitors in the history of the fine art of silk. The museum holds an extensive archive preserving copies from its inception to the present day in the form of parchments, books and archive boxes.
The tour begins with an immersion into the institution’s origins. Visitors are provided with a comprehensive audio guide that takes them through each section of the building. Museum-goers are given an insight into how the silk industry has strong links to the history of the city, having been imported from the Far East via the famous ‘silk road’.
Maps, videos and images lining the walls show how hundreds of silk weavers arrived in Valencia in the 15th century, bringing new techniques into weaving velvet, enabling a ‘silk boom’ in the city. The building itself is located in the silk weavers’ quarter, where most silk weavers and workshops were located. Visitors can take their time reading about the history via plaques or viewing images, artefacts and videos.
Exhibits show how silkworms were reared by silk weavers in the 15th century and how the material was dyed using different plants, herbs and shells. The visit then moves on to exploring fashion in the 18th century, and how silk was used in different articles of clothing.
Visitors are then introduced to the chapel. A room of grandeur with ornate decoration, the chapel features a Gothic spiral staircase that the audio guide informs was hidden behind a wall for centuries. However, the jewel in the crown of the visit is the ‘Hall of Fame’. This is the main room of the college, where the highest leaders of the institution gathered. The ceiling holds a painting created by José Vergara.This depicts the patron saint of the guild, San Jerónimo. The floor is magnificent, made up of ceramics representing the four continents known at the time of its creation, drawing attention to the role of Valencian silk across the world. Visitors are encouraged to try and identify each animal painted on the floor, representing each of the continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and America.
Looms and silkworms
One of the most interesting parts of the visit is the opportunity to see the looms that were, and still are used to create silk and velvet. The museum demonstrates how silk thread is gathered from silkworm cocoons. An expert shows the process of extracting thread from the cocoons using a wheel mechanism, explaining how one kilometre of thread can be taken from just one cocoon. This section is also fascinating for both adults and children as enclosures of hundreds of silkworms can be seen, and the physical life cycle of silkworms into butterflies.
After journeying through the museum, visitors are given the opportunity to browse the silk shop connected to the building. The shop is an independent section that members of the public can visit at any time, though is an integral part of the museum visit. Guests can purchase the products that are made from the silk that they have learned about during the visit. The collections of products, from wallets and bags to toys and intricately crafted fabrics, are beautiful, even just to browse. Visitors have the opportunity to take a piece of this wonderful museum home with them.
Espai seda restaurant
There is also a restaurant located in the courtyard where visitors and members of the public separate from the museum can enjoy drinks and Mediterranean food in a wonderful historical setting. This restaurant can be booked separately from the museum experience.
The Museo de la Seda is a “must-visit” institution in Valencia. A culmination of history, architecture, craftsmanship, fashion and wildlife, this institution provides an immersive insight into the rich history of the silk trade in Valencia and the history and culture of the city itself. The staff are friendly and helpful and speak both English and Spanish, and there is lift access to the upper floors. From start to finish, the visit is fascinating, allowing guests to explore at their own pace and absorb as much information as they desire.
Report by Emily Bray
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
All photos copyright Emily Bray/ ’24/7 Valencia’
Museo de la Seda (Silk Museum of Valencia)
Carrer de l’Hospital, 7
Tel: +34697155299 | +34963511951
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.