Spanish Barcelona farmers markets showcasing the best of Spain
The Boqueria Market, as it is known today, has been through many phases of life. On the following words I'll try to give a faithful description of that rich history as we under stand it. Where this market comes from is uncertain, what we are sure of is that it was born as a travelling market, placed in the Ramblas of Barcelona. La Rambla acquired growing importance as a pedestrian lane, and the market was set in the best place to attract the large numbers of passers-by and local inhabitants.
Its location was threatened many times. In Catalonia, towns and cities have been founded around markets and the same rings true for La Boqueria. It originated as an open-air market, in front of one of the gates of the old city wall (Pla de la Boqueria) where fruit and vegetable traders from local towns and farms near by would sell their products. The spaces inside the city at that time were too small to establish a big market of the current Boqueria kind and it was necessary to set them outside the walls.
As the market's popularity grew, farmers from neighbouring towns, such as Les Corts and Sarrià were stopped from trading here. As the competition within the market grew increasingly fierce, there would be arguments and fights between the old greengrocers and the new ones. For convenience sake the markets from the two near squares were merged in to one: La Rambla de Sant Josep.
Fish shops, butchers, and bird shops were built surrounding the new space, forming streets by the side of the convent and the Virreina. In 1826 The Marquee of Campo Sagrado, general captain of Catalonia, began to regulate, for the first time, the successful market of La Boqueria.
The new open-air market, in Rambla de Sant Josep was inaugurated on October 18th, 1827. In 1835 the destruction of the convent of Sant Josep took place. It was replaced by a square, which would have been the grandest square in Barcelona of its time. Surrounded by porches, with gardens and fountains, it was named Plaça del Treball.
Architecturally, the high columns were monumental, with a strong allegorical sense to the work. When this regeneration was almost complete, and at the time when works were expected to begin, it was believed necessary to temporarily install the market in the old convent of Sant Josep and so be able to remove it from the middle of la Rambla. This explains why the houses that surround and frame the market of the Boqueria form porches, which are unlike those in the present market.
In 1836 when the convent of the Carmelitas disappeared with its church of Saint Josep, the city hall planned the construction of the market. The project was in the hands of the architect Mas Vilá. On St. Joseph's day in 1840 the first stone of the market of la Boqueria was placed. In 1848 an enclosure for the fish monger's shop behind the palace of the Virreina was constructed. The pavilion that would later become the office of the Direction and Veterinary Services was also built. In 1861 some of the fruit and vegetable traders were allowed to settle provisionally at Plaza Sant Agustí and it was from this point that la Rambla was to be kept exclusively for flower stands.
Many salesmen gave out a flower for the purchase of some of their products. The sale of flowers increased. In 1863 the retail places of fruits and vegetables settled underneath the porches. In 1869 the convent of Jerusalem, located behind the market, was demolished to allow for an extension to be built. In the Christmas of 1871, the gas lighting was introduced to the market. In 1911 the fishmonger's shop was buil
n 1914 the market with the metal roof was inaugurated. From there, it began to modernize and to improve, not only at a sanitary level, but also aesthetic, and decorative. Over the years, La Boqueria has become the most emblematic market of all the network of markets in Barcelona.
The structure, the situation, and the salesmen turn it in to an obligated must-see for all the tourists who visit our city. This market has for the people of Barcelona, the suggestion of strong family memories. It's entwined with the city's history, of all our families, their popular traditions and celebrations.
The present salesmen are mostly, of the third and fourth generation of salesmen of the market. They are the union of the past with the present. Innovators, full of projects and renovation ideas for La Boqueria: for the new Barcelona.
The commercial supply is in abundance and varies greatly: fresh fish and sea food; salty fish; tinned food; butchery and offal; birds; game and eggs; fruits and vegetables; herbs; delicatessen; breads and pastries; restaurants; frozen items; artisan products; charcuterie; farmers' shops; wine; and even a Greek and an Italian hand made pasta stall have joined the consortium/maelstrom that keeps La Boqueria alive.
After all, the market is all about its people!
Coinciding with the dawn of the 21st century, the market has been reborn in commercial terms, and is now an international name of reference. This is shown by the great number of prizes it has won, which include the prize for the best market in the world, awarded by the World Markets Congress held in 2005 in Washington DC.
At the present time, the market is a member of Emporion, the European Association of Markets offering Excellence in Foods, and has promoted the European Project MedEmporion for the study and implementation of projects within the Mediterranean markets scope. The members of this project are the Barcelona Municipal Markets Institute, representing Barcelona City Council, the cities of Turin, Marseilles and Genoa and the Conservatory of Piamonte.
Another new addition in 2003 is the market’s Culinary Classroom, where children and adults are taught to cook, and different gastronomic events are organised every day.
A terrific market to spend some time wandering, a great selection of tapas type barfront bistro,s serving well priced tapas and local vino
The other market I stumbled over was the Mercat Del St Antoni , smaller, lots of locals and i must say , maybe because I had a camera, but they were not as friendly as the folk at La Boqueria. That market is another story.