The Lonja del Comercio, which first opened on March 1909, is angled obliquely to the square on its northern side. It was built in eclectic-style by the architectural firm of Purdy and Henderson as a center for commodities trading. The original five-story building had a steel structure and used reinforced concrete for the roof and mezzanines and cement blocks for the outside walls. In 1939, an additional top floor was added, but fortunately it remained true to the initial conception of the building. The beautiful golden dome is crowned by a bronze statue of the god Mercury—a replica of the original work of the messenger god by Flemish artist Jean Boulogne (aka Giovanni Bologna).
The ground floor was originally used for warehouses and the stock market, the 2nd and 3rd floors provided office space, while the 4th and 5th floors, which adopted a more sober ornamentation, were leased to customs brokers and trading companies.
In the 1990s the entire building was gutted and new, very contemporary styled, innards built with effusive use of stainless steel and glass. Alas, the addition of a rooftop floor with a reflective glass façade obstructs the view of the beautiful golden dome and of Mercury. However, visitors can enter the building during working hours to admire the striking cupola (no photos allowed).
The solid construction, which uses elements of the Spanish Renaissance style, is mitigated thanks to the light that filters in through numerous openings, and to the rhythm set by classical arches, columns and pilasters (retained in the reconstruction), both in the façade and in the interiors, arranged around a central courtyard.
It now houses various international trade and diplomatic offices, the radio station Habana Radio of the City Historian’s Office, plus offices of Etecsa and foreign news bureaus and tour companies.