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Barcelona | Food Markets

Whether you’re something of a “foodie”, or just a regular visitor seeing the sights, no visit to a Spanish city is complete without visiting at least one of its markets. Apart from its obvious practicality if you’re self-catering in an apartment (better than a hotel if you’re a group or family and staying more than a couple of nights), it’s one of the best ways of experiencing the day to day life and culture of the locals – what they buy and how they shop, and usually with an opportunity to sample some of it at a market cafe or bar. If it’s a bit overwhelming you could try one of the many market food tours such as The Barcelona Taste or Aborigens to get your bearings, or enjoy shopping and then cooking your purchases with an Eat With verified local host.

As you might expect, a city the size of Barcelona has quite a number of such markets, though the ones that the typical visitor is most likely to see are the three markets in and around the Ciutat Vella, the old city.

boqueriathe entrance to La Boquería market

La Boqueria

The most well-known of these is certainly Sant Josep de la Boqueria, located on the infamous Las Ramblas in the heart of the tourist neighbourhood between the Barri Gotic and El Raval. There’s been a market hereabouts since at least 1217, though the current building was constructed between 1840 and 1853, and although it’s still very much a working market it has now become a major attraction in its own right. There’s an impressive entrance, complete with a coat of arms surmounted by a bat*, but it’s set just a little way back from the street, so it’s surprisingly easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. The space inside seems huge, a cathedral of food, and with almost 300 stalls there’s plenty to choose from.

caterinaSanta Caterina is even more impressive when seen from above

Santa Caterina

Santa Caterina market, just off the Via Laietana in the La Ribera neighbourhood was the first of Barcelona’s covered markets to be renovated (in 2005), and is now most notable for its modernist undulating coloured roof, which you can get a good view of from the top of the nearby cathedral, and all that fabulous local fresh food of course. Less crowded than the Boqueria, with more space and light around the stalls and fewer bars, it nevertheless has a definite charm of its own, and it’s well worth taking the time to come here.

san antonitemporary installation for Sant Antoni Market

Sant Antoni

Sant Antoni is technically in the Eixample district, but really it’s right on the boundary with the old El Raval neighbourhood, where it was built in the 1880s to serve the new neighbourhoods of the growing city. Since 2009 it has been housed in rather shabby temporary accommodation on the Ronda Sant-Antoni while the original building is being renovated. Work should be completed, and the market restored to its proper home, in 2016, together with the famous Sunday collectors’ and books market. The original ground plan in the shape of a Greek cross,  surrounded by a circular covered gallery where the non-food stalls are housed, will be preserved, and the new building will also incorporate the medieval remains discovered during the works.

Other markets worth a visit include La Barceloneta, with it’s unusual roof, La Concepció in the Eixample which has a classic cast-iron and glass frontage, and Sant Marti in the eastern part of the city.

* The Bat is a heraldic symbol of the former crown of Aragon, and is thought to have originally represented a dragon. Officially it is no longer part of the coat of arms of Barcelona, but still appears on older versions and on some street furniture such as street lamps.

Seville | El Jueves Street Market

el jueves (7)

Go down to Calle Feria on a Thursday morning and you could be in for a big surprise, as a long section of the city centre end of the street and some side streets are taken over by the stalls of the El Jueves (Spanish for Thursday) market. Officially it’s an antiques market, but though you can find antiques here, the range of things on sale is much wider and more eclectic. Ceramics, paintings and furniture jostle for attention with second hand books and toys, watches and accessories, CDs and recycled fixtures and fittings. As with all such markets, it’s this almost anarchic mix of products, the possibility of the unexpected, of never knowing when you’re going to stumble on that unmissable bargain or perfect souvenir, that draws the crowds. Looking for a pepper mill to match your salt cellar? A lava lamp? A console for your old video-games? You just might find them here. If not, never mind, half the fun is in the browsing, the wondering why anybody would ever by one of those, or even what one of those actually is. Feel like a break? Go and sit in one of the local bars with a coffee and toast – or a cheeky cold beer – and just watch the bustle outside.

el jueves (1)

Time also to reflect on just how long people have been coming here on  Thursday mornings to buy and sell their wares. El Jueves is thought to be the oldest still-existing market in Europe, dating back to the 13th century, just after the Christian reconquest of the city (and there are rumoured to be one or two items from that era that have shown up every Thursday since then), when it was set up to help stimulate the economy Indeed, the very name of the street, Feria (Fair) reflects this history. Originally it would have been an agricultural and craftsman’s market. After the discovery of America it would doubtless have seen new exotic objects from overseas to add to the mix.

el jueves (4)

el jueves (2)

el jueves (5)

In the 19th century, the farmers’ market moved into its own building, now the Feria market, and the street would have begun to look something like it does today, with its small shops and businesses. But through all the changes, it seems the Thursday Market goes on forever.

It’s lunchtime now, the stallholders packing up, the buyers drifting away. You’re hungry. There are lots of places to eat, but our favourites are La Cantina and La Cocinera Feliz, the little bars inside the provisions market. Taberna de Pasos Largos and La Duquesita are good too.

el jueves (3)

If you want to stay in this authentically Sevillano part of town have a look at our Macarena and San Vicente apartment listings.

Seville | The Corral del Conde

conde fountainFrom the outside it looks rather forbidding, an almost featureless city block sized outer wall, with only some small windows to relieve the monotony. Well, those and a big wooden front door with an impressive number of apartment buzzers.

I’m standing outside the Corral del Conde (The name derives from the fact that it once belonged to the Condé Duque de Olivares) in Calle Santiago, reputed to be the oldest and most complete surviving corral de vecinos (courtyard of neighbours) in Seville, dating from the 16th century, and therefore a building of considerable historical and cultural interest. Outside, however, does not give you any real clue as to what awaits inside.

Going through the door you find yourself in a large courtyard formed by three stories of rustic style flats that also form the outer wall of the corral. The courtyard has a cobblestone surface, numerous trees and a central “fountain” which was once the communal washing facility. The flats are quite small, and these days are mostly occupied by youngish singles and couples, and it’s not unusual, particularly when the weather is right, for people to eat, relax or even work outdoors in a social atmosphere.

conde courtyard

This communal life, however, is only a shadow of what life would have been like here in the heyday of these buildings. Their origins extend back into Moorish times, but it was in the 16th century, when the promise of wealth from the trade with the new world was drawing people to the city in search of a fortune, or work at least, and its population was growing rapidly, that these communities expanded in both size and number. They were generally home to the lower social strata of society, and a dozen to fifteen people living in each room seems to have been the norm, so that a corral the size of the Conde would have housed around a thousand people, with communal washing and cooking facilities in the courtyard. It’s hard to imagine the press of humanity and the appalling living conditions that such numbers imply, but thankfully those days are gone.

conde lunchtable set for lunch in the communal courtyard

With many corrales now lost, abandoned, or in poor repair, it was fascinating to be able to visit the Conde, and to see how it is entering a new phase of its existence. On this occasion we were there for a social event, a small lunch party being held in the courtyard by a couple of friends who live there, and we were able to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the large courtyard. Even the weather, cloudy in the morning, brightened up for our meal, finishing with one of those bright blue Seville skies that is rarely seen elsewhere.

corral del conde aptsneighbours add personal touches to the outside of their homes

Veoapartment is fortunate enough to be the agent for two holiday apartments in this complex, a unique opportunity for visitors who want to see the city from a different perspective. The setting is both picturesque and stunningly beautiful, as well as being in a good location for all the other things you’ll want to do on a holiday in Seville.

conde

Seville | Feria Market


A visit to the Feria Market in Seville!

Calle Feria is one of the best known streets in Seville. It runs from north to south and is the official boundary between the neighbourhoods of Macarena and San Vicente. It’s named for the market/fair (El Jueves) that was instituted here way back in the 13th century, and which is still held every Thursday, making it the longest continuously functioning market in Europe. About halfway along – and not far from Veoapartment HQ – you can also find the Feria provisions market, the oldest and smallest in the city, with the Omnium Sanctorum church on one side, and the Algaba Palace (now the home of the Mudejar centre) behind. Like the neighbourhoods around it, it’s a bustling, friendly, down-to-earth sort of place, frequented by real, local people.

In our short video we visit the market with Toñi, who lives nearby, and listen in as she talks to the owners of some of the stalls, buys some provisions and has a bite to eat at the market bar, La Cocinera Feliz. If you look closely you’ll also see some of the Veo team!

Seville | Alameda de Hercules

If you’re coming to Seville and looking for some (reasonably respectable) nightlife, the chances are high that at some point you will find yourself in the Alameda de Hercules, especially after reading this.

The Alameda can be found in the northern part of the historic centre of Seville, between the neighbourhoods of Macarena and San Vicente, and is the largest open space inside the old city walls, forming a long rectangle that reaches from near the Barqueta almost to the city centre. These days it’s quite upmarket, lined with lots of bars and restaurants, several boutique hotels, and a couple or three disco/nightclubs that host live music, as well as a cinema and a theatre. Although best known for its nightlife, it’s a busy social gathering place throughout the day, with a couple of play areas and water features (not sure how else to describe them, but you’ll know what I mean when you see them) for the kids, and bars and cafes for the grown-ups.

alameda

It hasn’t always been this way. In fact the Alameda has a long and chequered history that in some respects has come full circle. Back in mediaeval times it was a branch of the main river that ran on through what is now Sierpes to the Arenal. After it was dammed in 1383 a shallow marshy lagoon was left behind. Finally, in 1574 it was drained and planted with the avenue of poplars (álamos) which give it its name, creating the oldest public park in Europe. Four marble columns (two at each end), were added. Those at the southern end came from the Temple of Diana, whose last three columns can still be seen in Calle Marmoles, and are topped with statues of Hercules and Julius Caesar, considered to be the founders of the city. In the 19th century it was a popular place for the upper classes to stroll and socialise, but from the time of the civil war it went into decline, becoming the city’s red-light district. More recently it has been undergoing a process of gentrification which included a complete refurbishment of the square itself, with partial pedestrianisation.

alameda tapastapas variadas in the Alameda – something for everyone

Eating out in the Alameda offers traditional Spanish fare along with international flavours, from Japanese-Peruvian fusion at Nikkei Bar to Argentinian style La Parrilla de Badulaque for terrific grilled meats. For something a bit more elegant head to Al Aljibe (a personal favourite), while buzzy Bar Antojo and Duo Tapas cater to a young hip crowd. If it’s a hot afternoon Freskita Heladería (ice cream bar) could be what you’re looking for. There may well be street performers to entertain you too, though opinions differ on whether this is a plus or minus. For late night drinking follow the crowds – what’s hot can change faster than British weather. After midnight Thursdays to Saturdays go to Fun Club for disco and live music. Another popular music nightspot is the Naima Jazz Café just off the square in Calle Trajano.

If you want to stay close to the Alameda, veoapartment has a wide variety of holiday rental apartments nearby. Choose one from either our Macarena or San Vicente listings.