La Boqueria Market

Over the years, la Boqueria has become the most emblematic market in Barcelona and one of the most famous of the entire Europe. It features everything from savory souvenirs to gourmet specialties, and from fresh local veggies and seafood to food bars to taste them. It is an outstanding experience, in itself, and a place that both tourists and locals widely enjoy.

La Boqueria - the main entrance

La Boqueria Market opened on Saint Joseph’s day, on the 19th of March 1840 and is, since then, a market for fresh food and freshly prepared food. We usually take a good hour to wander the aisles and highlight the diversity of the place (Full Spanish Breakfast at la Boqueria is the first step, out of 4, that we take during our the Taste of Barcelona Tour).

There are all sorts of vendors, here: of veggies, fruit, candy, dried fruit, nuts, eggs, seafood, fish and of course meat: cow, rabbit, duck, goat, lamb, chicken, pork. Due to its dimension, diversity of offer as well as influx of tourists, a brief reading before the visit might come in handy. If you’re eager to explore on your own, this is a link I find very useful to check before your first visit.

Some of the Market Specialties

Here are only a few of the many wonders we pass by, as well as taste. Still, even if we go there quite often, there are always new stories to share, seasonal veggies and fruit to arrive, specific dishes and sweets to try only in certain times of the year…

Jamón ibérico
There are many stalls selling jamón ibérico, in la Boqueria. If you want nothing but the best, look for Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. This means dry-cured ham coming from “Iberico” (Iberian) race pigs that have been raised in the wild in the traditional way (not in farms) in Spain’s southwestern pasture lands (Extremadura, Huelva). They’ve been fed acorns (“bellotas”) and grass during their finishing period. From there it’s time to choose which Ibérico de Bellota you want. The safest bet (to ensure a consistently high quality) is to go for a ham from a producer that is inscribed in a Denomination of Origin (DO). There are four Jamón Ibérico DOs in Spain: Dehesa de Extremadura (Extremadura); Guijuelo (Salamanca); Huelva (Huelva); Los Pedroches (Córdoba). The first one, D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura, is known for enforcing the strictest quality controls. Another option is to shop by brand. These producers aren’t actually backed by any DO but are regarded as some of the best jamón brands in Spain: Maldonado, Joselito, or Cinco Jotas.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils
Old Fargus Olive Oil FARGA variety, proceeds from olive trees of approximately 2.000 years old from the Maestrazgo area (Valencia-Spain), with a trunk perimeter over 6m. Olei is the first and only extra virgin olive oil, hand selected from the oldest centenarian olive trees from the regions of Quiroga and Valdeorras in Galicia, the North West corner of Spain, an area world renowned for its excellent wines.
Aroma Iberic
Aroma Iberic opened its stall in la Boqueria in 2002, selling pork products and delicatessen. Backed by years of experience in the family business at Sant Antoni market, they also introduced cheese specialties from Catalunya as well as all the iconic Iberian regions. I am personally a fan of Formatges Montbrú, a brand that produces exquisite cheese specialities, continuing a tradition that has been maintained for centuries in the area surrounding Mas Montbrú in the Moianès region of Catalonia. Fresh, soft, semi-cured, cured… predominantly made from goat’s milk, but also from buffalo, cow or sheep’s milk.

Some of the Market Food Bars

There is also a generous number of tapas bars spread among the stalls. They use fresh ingredients right from the sellers, and mix tastes from all regions of the peninsula.

Kiosk Universal

El Quim de la Boqueria

the History of the Market

The market was built as a large portico square with Ionic columns under which the travelling tradesmen of the city could offer their varied products. Marquis Campo Sagrado, Catalonia’s general captain, started to establish the rules for this travelling market in an area that became a large square after the convent was gone. With time the Boqueria Market of Barcelona transformed itself in a modern market. A few years later, in 1914, it incorporated the gas illumination and a metal roof designed by the engineer Miquel de Bergue was added.

La Boqueria 1701-1900

The market and its surroundings have been restored in recent years to the way they were in the early 20th century.

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. 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 built. In 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.

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