Where? Off La Rambla, close to the Liceu metro station.
For whom? Lovers of architecture and the finest in fresh ingredients.
What? Barcelona’s premier market, described by Time Out magazine as “El millor mercat del món” (The best market in the world).
Situated just a few paces off Barcelona´s most famous street, La Rambla, lies La Boqueria – a must-see for any visitor to the city. This world-renowned market (part of a ) is a tourist attraction in its own right, thus illustrating the impact that it has on those who pass under its Modernisme-influenced entrance.
These Art Nouveau touches are reflective of improvements made to the market in the early 20th century, culminating in the addition of a metal roof in 1914. This aids in containing the frenetic ambience within La Boqueria, and of course helps to protect eager shoppers from the elements. Though these changes have done much to promote the La Boqueria’s legendary status, the market has played a pivotal role in Barcelona trade for centuries, with its first mention dating back to 1217.
Entering La Boqueria is a sharply sensory experience. The first-time visitor is immediately taken aback by the sights, sounds and smells emanating from the vast array of stalls. There are numerous fruit stands situated at the front of the market, containing an almost overwhelming palate of colours. These stands offer freshly-squeezed fruit juices for €1.50, whilst pots of pineapple, melon and strawberries can be purchased for just €1. These come with a plastic fork, and make a refreshing accompaniment as you meander through the extensive variety of vendors.
The centre of the market is fittingly occupied by the many fishmongers, as this is perhaps the most frantic, vibrant area of the market. A wide range of fish, including everything from tuna to turbot, is delivered right in front of the customers. The fish are then washed, weighed, placed in ice and put on sale. The heads of the fish are not removed, therefore adding to the spectacle and to the sense of immediacy in this marketplace. The products are the freshest you will find anywhere, and the diversity of the ingredients is one reason that many of the city’s top chefs, including Ferran Adrià, buy their produce here. Furthermore, ´bacalao frito´ (fried cod) can be bought to take away, and this is a local favourite. Though this cod comes from the North Atlantic Sea, rather than the Mediterranean, it is often kept in salt to preserve its flavour; a technique picked up during the Roman occupation of the city.
One of the prime joys to be taken from a visit to La Boqueria is the discovery of a range of rarities that one would not often expect to find under the same roof. Yet this incongruity does not lead to a disjointed feeling between the stalls, as they are all united in their passion for their product. One personal highlight was the stall selling huge, black, ostrich eggs, peopled by a couple of very chatty locals. This joie de vivre is one of the foremost reasons that this market is something of a photographer´s dream, a fact attested to by the droves of camera-toting tourists trying to capture the essence of La Boqueria. The finest in Spanish chorizo, Catalan delicacy fuet (a cured, dry sausage), and even eels are placed on sale in one legendary location. The products are markedly more expensive than the average supermarket, yet the customer can see (and smell) exactly why they are paying these premium prices. The only way to truly feel this unforgettable atmosphere is to visit La Boqueria and immerse yourself in this landmark attraction. Given its easy accessibility, this is truly one of the must-see sights in the city. Though the hectic activity of the market evokes a sense of flux, one thing has remained constant throughout the ages – the central position of La Boqueria, both geographically and figuratively, as the beating heart of Barcelona’s commerce.
Monday to Saturday: 0800-2030
Metro Station Liceu L3
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