At the start of the 20th century, street traders would offer their goods, with cries and proclamations, in the city squares. These areas later became markets, many of which are still with us today – each a unique hotbed of culture, gastronomy and tourism. Here we recommend four Spanish markets you won’t want to miss.
Located next to the Plaza Mayor, the Mercado de San Miguel is still housed in the iron structure that dates from the early 20th century. It has 75 stalls offering high quality seasonal produce, gastronomic advice and food to eat on the spot. The market gives the heart of Madrid a modern touch with traditional underpinnings, a place where Spanish cuisine is enriched by flavours from around the world. The market also follows the model of La Boquería in Barcelona, promoting cultural activities and hosting numerous events.
If you want to visit the Mercado de San Miguel, why not stay close by? The Vincci Capitol 4* Madrid and the Vincci Vía 66 4* are both on the famous Gran Vía, just over 800 metres from the market. In the Vincci Capitol you’ll enjoy luxury and exclusivity, along with the spectacular views. And its ground floor hosts one of Madrid’s most famous cinemas: Cines Capitol.
For theatre lovers we’d recommend the Vincci Vía 66 4* Madrid; its lobby recreates the atmosphere of a 20th century theatre, while the design and style make this hotel more than memorable. So much so, it was voted one of the 10 best design hotels by hotel users.
Both Vincci Capitol 4* Madrid and Vincci Vía 66 4* Madrid have Nammu Spas, where you can relax and indulge in a range of thermal treatments.
Mercado de San Antón (Madrid)
This market is also located in Madrid, but in the Chueca neighbourhood. It was mentioned by Galdós in his 1887 realist work Fortunata y Jacinta, at which time it was just a street market in an area populated by immigrants from the countryside. Today the neighbourhood is very different, as is the market.
Mercado de San Antón. / Foto: página oficial del Mercado de San Antón.
Meat, fish, bread, sweets or fruit… whatever you want, you’ll find.
The market’s crowning glory is its fabulous rooftop terrace where you’ll find the restaurant ‘La cocina de San Antón’. The twist is that if you bring produce bought in the market, they’ll cook it for you. The view of the Madrid sky and the Justicia neighbourhood are the perfect complement for the cocktails the restaurant offers.
Close to this market, we’d love you to come and discover Vincci Centum 4* Madrid and Vincci Soho 4* Madrid, both just a 10-15 minutes walk away. The first offers comfort and design; the second, made up of five adjoining protected historic buildings, located in the heart of the ‘Art Triangle’, is avant-garde and has a cultural focus.
Mercado de la Boquería (Barcelona)
The Mercado de Sant Josep, better known as La Boquería, is dynamite for the senses. Smells and colours abound amidst the bustle of buyers and sellers. In the heart of the Rambla de Barcelona, La Boquería defines the spirit of what a market should be.
At the start of the 20th century the traders would gift a flower with each purchase, which led to the traditional florists still found today on the Rambla.
Today, in addition to being a place to buy fresh produce, it’s a tourist attraction in its own right. You can enjoy tasting sessions of wine and cava, eat in the restaurants, or give in to temptation and buy some of the fruit that so captivates the eye.
Vincci Gala 4* Barcelona is just a 15 minute stroll from La Boquería. Design, avant-garde, Dalí… just some of the terms that can be used to describe the hotel. One of a kind, you’ll be delighted by the level of comfort it offers, as well as enjoying the outdoor café, the tasteful décor in the bedrooms and the completely adaptable conference rooms.
Mercat Central de València (Valencia)
The Mercat Central de València, seen in the photo at the start of the article, has also become a tourist attraction, for both locals and foreigners, who come for the freshness of the produce and the human touch of its traders. The market has nearly 300 small businesses, divided into two sections. It’s the largest fresh produce market in Europe and the first in the world, in 1996, to computerise both the stalls and the home delivery of produce.
Just like the other markets the Mercat Central doesn’t just focus on the sales of produce, it also promotes culture and hosts events on a regular basis.
Vincci Lys 4* and Vincci Palace 4* Valencia are both close to the Mercat, and it won’t take you more than 10 minutes to get there from either.
Vincci Lys 4* Valencia is located right in the city centre, surrounded by a plethora of shops, restaurants and famous historic buildings. It’s just two minutes from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento and the train station. Its elegant, welcoming décor is a highlight.
The Vincci Palace 4* Valencia is in a mansion house in the city centre. A spectacular façade is the public face of a hotel where you can rest, top up your tan in the solarium or enjoy a cup of tea in its Bar Lounge.
We hope you enjoy the traditions and the culture of the markets!