Llotja de Sant Jordi - Atlas Obscura

Llotja de Sant Jordi

This exhibition space designed to look like the skeleton of a whale is hidden underground. 


From time to time, art galleries, museums, and exhibition spaces are created in such a way that the architecture rightly become as much of an attraction as the contents. These are often grand buildings in public view, but this fantastic space is hidden away under a city square in the town of Alcoy in Valencia, Spain.

Called the Llotja de Sant Jordi, the exhibition space was designed in 1992 by the architect Santiago Calatrava. The main space is made of pure white concrete with a granite floor, and was designed to look like you’re inside the rib cage of a giant whale. The parabolic ribs used in this underground structure are a favorite of Calatrava’s and he has used them in many other buildings, but this magnificent space is one of the smallest and least well-known of his structures.

The fantastic scene is enhanced by the natural light that filters through the ceiling, entering from the Plaça Espanya above. Also remarkable is the entrance system, a series of hidden, hydraulically operated trapdoors that open onto two wide stairways descending below the square. 

Know Before You Go

The space is closed during the month of August and whenever exhibitions are being prepared. Otherwise, it is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Sundays it is open only in the morning and it is closed on Mondays. Street parking is often not easy in Alcoi; there is a public parking lot on Carrer Gonçal Barrachina. You can get a train from Valencia to Alcoi or a direct bus from Alicante.

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