One of the finest food markets I’ve ever visited, and supposedly one of the best in the world, is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, usually just called “La Boqueria“. It’s one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist spots — so much so that group tours are no longer allowed inside. You, the independent traveler, are welcome! The market is just off the popular pedestrian mall, La Rambla, not far from Barcelona’s opera house. A iron gate frames your entrance to the very diverse and fresh selection of food items within.
The first mention of the Boqueria market dates to 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470, a pig market was held at this site, known as Mercat Bornet. Later, until 1794, it was known simply as Mercat de la Palla, or straw market. The current name is believed to derive from the Catalan boc, meaning “goat”; a boqueria is a place where goat meat is sold. The current Mercat building, which has a Modernista influence, was actually built between 1840 to 1914 on the site of the former St Joseph Monastery.
The market will be crowded, unless you come very early or towards closing time. You’ll definitely find locals about, mostly towards the back of the market where prices are significantly lower than near the entrance. But there will be lots of tourists snapping photos with their cameras and smartphones and buying drinks and snacks. But don’t the crowds dissuade you from going. It is a market worth experiencing, but be sure you use pickpocket precautions during your visit. And, as always when traveling, be patient.
As you’d expect, there are lots of fresh produce vendors, many seafood vendors (Barcelona is on the sea and seafood is very popular throughout Spain), and meat and sellers of other staples, like bread, cheese and canned goods. Dotted around the market there are bars selling both food and drink and it’s a reasonable option for a snack, tapas, or a meal.
Here are some of the images from the market:
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)