Mercado Central de Almería, a culinary haven
Right in the middle of the old town of Almeria lies a culinary haven – Mercado Central de Almería. This 19th century iron-wrought building boasts the best selection of the region’s most delectable products and is a true feast for the senses.
Two floors stocked with goodies
The market dates back to the end of the 19th century and was only refurbished for the first time between 2009 and 2012. It resulted in a revitalised space where vendors could proudly display staples of a Mediterranean diet. The displays are so appealing that oohs and ahhs will abound.
Venture into the market from any of the four accesses on the ground floor. The butcher shops lining the façade will delight meat eaters while the central stands burst with vibrant colours, summoning visitors to check out the freshest selection of fruits and vegetables right from the region’s very own garden. This is where you can pick up typical Almerian produce such as a unique variety of potatoes, spring Adonis potatoes, or juicy Raf tomatoes. Pick up a few at the stand operated by the Martinez clan; their variety is particularly yummy. For olives and pickled goods, swing by the stand operated by Antonio Roque, El Aceitunero, ‘the Olive Man’.
Fishmongers are located just one floor down and offer the freshest fish and seafood straight from the Mediterranean such as John Dory, red prawns and Raon. Pick up whatever you fancy and head to the bustling, family-run bar, located right in the market, where they will prepare it for you on the spot.
The market offers free Wi-Fi and if you’d like to learn more about what is going on in the city, check out the cultural programme at Stand 23. This tiny bookshop will have all the information you need.
Mercado Central: a market for and by the people
The market retains the essence of traditional city markets, brimming with locals who come on a daily basis to pick up what they need. This is where stand owners and clients known each other on a first name basis and chit-chat about the family. Visitors shouldn’t feel left out – this is a great destination to experience that southern Spanish laidback attitude where food and interpersonal relationships are all that matters.
Markets have become a tourist attraction across the world. Culinary tourism is now a ‘thing’ and markets have picked up on the trend, revitalising century-old buildings to create spaces where the best products are available alongside top-notch bars and restaurants. The notion of straight from the market to the table cannot ring truer in these spaces. Spanish products and cuisine have earned international acclaim and epicureans flock to these culinary havens to discover all the tasty secrets this country has to offer.
A few examples include Mercado de la Boquería in Barcelona, Mercado de San Miguel (Link: The San Miguel market) in Madrid, and Lonja del Barranco in Seville. If you are travelling to any of these cities, be sure to make a stop at these markets – they are architectural and culinary gems.
The history behind the Mercado Central of Almeria
In the 19th century, the city of Almeria realised it needed to centralise food distribution, but it wasn’t until 1892 when the construction of the market was finally begun in the city centre.
Trinidad Cuartara was a local architect who had designed a number of other landmark buildings in the city, including Casa de las Mariposas (Link: The House of Butterflies) and the regional government’s head office. He received the commission for this project that would last five years. The iron-wrought building is a classic example of the architecture that reigned at the beginning of the 19th century, heavily influenced by the Industrial Revolution.
The two-story building is comprised of five naves, housing numerous stands with all types of goodies. A statue of a woman holding a basket of fruit was erected right in front of the main access as a symbol of abundance.
The time Marie Curie came for a visit
You many wonder why the market boasts an honorary plaque dedicated to Marie Curie. The Polish scientist visited Spain on three occasions and one of these trips was by invitation from the government of the Second Republic in 1931. During this trip, she travelled from Granada to Murcia and spent one night in Almeria. This was on 30 April. Legend has it that when she visited the market with her daughter, they were offered roses by all the florists, who were so honoured to welcome her to their city. She expressed her wish to come back to the city, but unfortunately died before she could do so.
Few knew about this historic visit until the local historian Antonio Sevillano requested that the local government place some sort of tribute in remembrance of Marie Curie and the time she visited Almeria. The plaque was inaugurated in 2018.
A market open throughout the day
The great thing about Mercado Central de Almería is that it is open almost all day long, which is not the case in all markets. This initiative was a way to support local businesses by offering the possibility to people to shop in the evenings. However, the market is only open in the mornings during the summer months.
Information of interest
How to get to Mercado Central de Almería:
- On foot: The market is located close to Puerta de Purchena and Avenida Federico García Lorca, one of the city’s main avenues.
- By bus: Buses L2, L11 and L18 can drop you off near the market.
- By car: It is best to leave your vehicle in the underground car park on Rambla Obispo, located by the market. The streets around the market are pedestrianised, so you won’t be able to park in the area.