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Barcelona Style


Barcelona markets

December 2018 | Trends | Gastronomy | Barcelona

Barcelona is constantly updating its market halls to enhance the shopping experience of people on the lookout for delicious Mediterranean products.
  • Boqueria | © Mercats
  • Encants Vells | © Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre
  • Mercat del Ninot, tastet de Nit | © Mercat del Ninot
  • Mercat Santa Caterina | © Antonio Lajusticia

Almost everyone who comes to Barcelona has heard about La Boquería Market. Located at La Rambla, it opened back in 1840 and now receives more visitors from far and near than any other market in the city. The fact is, however, that this large number of people has made it rather hard in recent years to enjoy a leisurely walk around this market or to find a place at one of the eating establishments here that are famed for preparing the fresh products sold at the surrounding stalls. Here we’ll explain some interesting tricks for avoiding the crowds and getting a chance to taste the wonderful products that are displayed in the markets.

The real jewel in the crown of Barcelona’s market halls is the Sant Antoni Market. Eight years of refurbishing works have spruced up the 53,388 square metres of this market, making it the biggest facility of its type in the city. But this is not just a place where food is sold: it also features a museum area where you can see the ancient Roman site that was discovered during the recent restoration works, with paved stretches of the Via Augusta, the Roman road that once crossed Hispania Province. 

This market built in 1882 by Antoni Rovira i Trias is still a huge structure by modern standards and quite a beautiful one to see. It has stalls carrying all sorts of articles in addition to fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, including clothes, household utensils and other items. On Sundays, especially, it is very popular among Barcelonans since it becomes the site of a second-hand book fair where people also buy and trade stamps, coins and picture cards.

Another very interesting market hall is the Santa Caterina Market. Located opposite the Barcelona Cathedral, it stands out for its colourful undulating roof covered with  ceramic tiles. The roof, with its wavy shapes, recalls the awnings that once sheltered the stalls here and it was the finishing touch on the revamp carried out in 2005. The market actually dates back to 1845, when it was built on the site of the Convent of Santa Caterina, from which it takes its name. In the period after the Spanish Civil War, this was the market in charge of distributing the provisions for the people who lived in the city’s surroundings. Three façades of the old Neoclassical convent may still be seen here although the wooden roof structure that covers the interior of the building now shelters, of course, today’s food stalls and the cafés and restaurants which are celebrated for the quality of their cooking.

The market hall popularly called Mercat del Ninot reopened after its remodelling in May of 2017. It now sports a new roof, has more space for its stalls and even features areas where its products may be tasted. Even so, the wide-ranging refurbishment project preserved the market’s beautiful original architectural structure.

An ongoing process
Barcelona is focused  on remodelling its market halls in order to stimulate local business. Nineteen of the total of 39 markets have been modernized to date, two new ones have been built and even some markets not dealing in foods have been refurbished, like the Encants Vells flea market. At the Encants Vells, the architects sought to preserve the feeling of being in the open air in this market now situated beneath a huge roof with a “mirror effect”, sheltering visitors while reflecting all the hustle and bustle. One interesting event here is the regular public auction in which unclaimed items from old dwellings, merchandise from shops that have closed down and remaindered stocks go on the block.