La Boquería

Much more than just a market!

La Boquería is one of several covered food markets in Barcelona, but this is the most well known and has actually become one of the city's most famous attractions. 

It is the perfect example of everyday life, together with so many wonderful traditions, and is so beautiful that it is really worth a visit at least once in your life.  You will be mesmerized by a world full of color, scents and really authentic flavors.  The market's stall holders supply Barcelona's citizens and tourists with the fruit of their labors and the quality of their products on a daily basis: this presents visitors with an alternative choice when it comes to where they should do their shopping or where to pick up something to eat as they explore the city.  

La Boquería
The entrance from La Rambla

Useful information: how and when to visit

La Boquería is situated in the neighborhood known as Raval, between the Palacio de la Virreina and the Liceu Theater. You can get there relatively easily on public transport by taking the green line on the Metro, L2, and getting off at the stop called Liceu. If you are already in the center of Barcelona, you can reach the market easily by going up the famous La Rambla: if you come out from Plaza Catalunya and head towards the sea, you will find it half way along the avenue on the right hand side.  You can access the market from any of its perimeters on to the street on Carrer de Jerusalem and on the side, from Carrer del Carme, turning into the Carrer de les Cabres. You can visit the market from Monday to Saturday from 08:00 to 20:30.

A vast selection of extra virgin olive oil
A vast selection of extra virgin olive oil

The Market's history

Generally, in Catalonia, markets are a representation of urban life, around which, residential areas develop and grow.  But, La Boqueria probably started life outdoors in front of the old walls where street vendors and farmers from the nearby villages installed themselves in order to sell their products.  However, even though the origins of the market are not entirely clear, what is definite is that the market came into being as a place in which to barter and sell fresh produce in the open air and vendors discovered that LaRambla was the ideal spot in which to sell their fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.  During the XIII century, the sale of grapes and the weighing of straw were also included in the market's commercial activities.  Because of this, until 1794, the market's original name was "the straw market."  In 1826, the town council decided to regulate the market for the first time but only some ten years after the Council had approved the construction of an actual building to house the market which was completed in 1840.  In 1914, the new building was inaugurated with its metallic roof and from that moment on, work was carried out to modernize and improve the building's sanitary, aesthetic and decorative standards.....until the attractive structure that is seen and loved today was finally accomplished. 

A display of fresh fruit at La Boqueria
A display of fresh fruit at La Boqueria 

How to get there and what to see

If in the past, Catalonia's most famous street market was divided into specific sectors where you could find food products all belonging to the same category, today, the merchandise that's on offer is really mixed and abundant, but never confusing.  Any confusion that does arise, is generally a result of the number of visitors at any given time of day: normally, regular customers tend to arrive in the morning to do whatever shopping is necessary whereas, at lunchtime and in the afternoons, there are plenty of tourists who have arrived at the market out of curiosity, because they're hungry or because they enjoy experiencing new things. Unquestionably, a fun and interesting way to visit this colorful place that is full of different smells and flavors is to just wander among the numerous stalls. You can choose from typical Catalan cuisine, which is full of different types of sausages and tapas, or other offerings such as those you will find on the stall selling empanadas. For those who love fish, you will find some wonderful deep fried varieties from the numerous fishmongers and for those who focus on eating healthily, there is a wealth of choice when choosing between the colorful stalls selling fresh fruit which has already been prepared in Macedonian glasses.  You also shouldn't miss out on the chance to sample a delicious pizza which has been lovingly prepared at the Catalan pizzeria called Elsice Pizza.

Sit down and enjoy some wonderful tapas
Sit down and enjoy some wonderful tapas
Is it possible to enjoy a meal somewhere that has seating?

This is a sensible question because not everyone knows what to expect in somewhere that is simply described as a "market."  But in this instance, there is so much more on offer.  The answer is yes, you can eat a meal sitting down (in some places) and you can also have dinner sitting down if you do so before 20:30 which is the time when the stalls actually close.  Here it will be possible to take a seat at some of the stalls in the market and enjoy delicious fish and meat dishes as well as tapas. Another alternative is to buy food to take away from the specialty stalls: Chinese rice, meatballs, tortillas....there are so many dishes that have already been prepared that you can buy and take home or to one of the city's green areas for a picnic or, why not stretch out by the coast which you can easily reach by continuing along La Rambla in order to have a break and enjoy something different?  A good tip is to arrive for lunch or dinner at one of the typical local eateries, bearing in mind that dinner is eaten late in Barcelona (normally between 21:00 and 23:00) and there are plenty of wonderful places in which to spend an enjoyable evening sampling a wide range of tapas.  

Food to take away in Boquería
Food to take away

How many and what type of stalls are there? 

The Boquería has 15 bars, 26 butchers, 24 delis, 52 fruit and veg stalls, 8 fishmongers, 13 specialty stalls and plenty more.  For example, you will find stalls that sell eggs of differing sizes and colors, or olives of every imaginable kind, cheeses, empanadas, oriental dishes and multi-colored ice creams, dried fruits and spices - and potentially anything else you might be hoping to find.  The market is principally geared towards foodstuffs (except for small souvenirs such as miniature bottles of sangría) and generally sells local Catalan produce although there are also displays of oriental foodstuffs such as Chinese and Japanese specialties.  If you have a sweet tooth, you will find a wonderful selection of desserts such as those you will be able to see in the Relicatessen pastry shop.  There are also a wide range of Arabic specialties which will delight you with their crunchy, sweet flavors.  So, how many stalls are there?  Actually, more than 300! 

Exotic Fruits to take away in Boquería
Exotic Fruits to take away 

What's worth knowing

The area covered by La Boquería is some 2583 m² and, although it is always unlikely that the market won't be busy, not all the stalls are open at the same time: within the opening hours, it is up to each trader to decide when to close up or to work specific hours.  Importantly, if you are coming here for the first time, you should be prepared to be surrounded by lots of people which means having to squeeze past other visitors when you or they are trying to reach a particular stall. You should also pay great attention to any potential pickpockets and also, the heat: you must keep an eye on your bags or backpacks and should wear light clothing and comfortable shoes.  Another thing that is worth knowing, before you come, is that if you decide to come by car, you will be entitled to a free hour's parking (at the Plaza de la Gardunya) followed by a minimum charge of €30.00.  And to finish: Did you know that you can also take part in some interesting and original activities?  For example, there are competitions that are organized which have a dinner in one of the fabulous restaurants inside the market as a prize.  In order to check whether there are any competitions currently running, you can follow La Boquería on its Facebook page. In addition to this, you can also join in on a cookery class such as those which are organized by bcnKitchen: a gastronomic experience in the most heavily scented and tasty heart of the city with visits to different stalls and group workshops.

Resources:
Download the PDF about the activities at La Boquería from 2017
Download the PDF of a Map of La Boquería 2017

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