La Boqueria market: Barcelona on a plate

  • Stories
  • 21 March, 2020
The main entrance of La Boqueria market in Barcelona.

The breathtaking market of La Boqueria is a place where you can feel how Spaniards love to eat well. If a market ever existed in heaven, perhaps it would look like this. The multi-tiered counters bursting with the freshest food, a rich assortment of products from all over the country, noise, din and the anticipation of a generous meal. La Boqueria is worth visiting not only for the sake of its products – the authentic atmosphere of Catalonia is what distinguishes it from other markets.

The origins of La Boqueria

La Boqueria was first mentioned in 1217, when the market found itself on the outskirts of the medieval Barcelona. Initially it was an open space surrounded by columns, locally known as a place for buying meat. By 1470, it had acquired the nickname “the pig market”, as it was best known for its offer of pigs, hogs and piglets, slaughtered or still alive.

For most of the time, the marketplace did not have any official status. Everything changed in 1826, when the city authorities agreed that the place needed a building. An official status followed, meaning the formal opening of La Boqueria in 1853. The iconic metal roof of the marketplace appeared in 1914.

Where does the name La Boqueria come from?

By the way, did you wonder why this place has such a name? No one is actually really sure about the origins of the name “La Boqueria”, with the marketplace already being around for more than eight centuries. Among historians, the most likely explanation is that the name originates from the Catalan word "boc", which translates to goat. The ending “eria” is common in Catalan to indicate a place where the particular goods are being sold – in the case of La Boqueria, goat products. So for example “argentería” means a place where silver (argentum) is being sold.

Arriving early at La Boqueria means the freshest seafood and a lot of choice.
Arriving early at La Boqueria means the freshest seafood and a lot of choice.

What to expect at La Boqueria?

Entering La Boqueria market for the first time, you might get overwhelmed with all the options you have here. Seafood of all sorts, fruits of all colours, and delicacies of all prices make up an abundance of products. Getting lost in the choices of La Boqueria isn’t necessarily much of a problem, but if you prefer to keep the overview, we recommend using the plan of the stands available at the official website of La Boqueria.

La Boqueria market is originally known for its meat and fish rows. Perhaps not a very practical choice for most travellers, unless you live in an apartment with your own kitchen. Various bars and little restaurants still give the opportunity to have a bite of the fresh products offered at La Boqueria. Here and there you can pause at a little bar to taste magnificent jamón, cheese, seafood, patatas bravas and everything else your heart desires.

The little bars in La Boqueria are excellent for tasting local tapas.
The little bars in La Boqueria are excellent for tasting local tapas.

If you decide to buy a good as a souvenir, a piece of original Spanish dry-cured ham (jamón) is probably one of your better options. Jamón can be purchased in the form of a full-weight leg or in smaller quantities, tightly packed and sealed upon request.

One does not simply pass by tasty jamón in La Boqueria.
One does not simply pass by tasty jamón in La Boqueria.

The elegant but gloomy market hall of La Boqueria is brightened up by stalls offering fresh fruits and vegetables of all colours of the rainbow. Here you get an idea of how rich the Mediterranean is in terms of gifts from nature: young potatoes (Spain harvests up to four crops per year), exotic fruits you may have never seen before, berries and all kinds of freshly squeezed juices.

Another part of the market that you cannot miss are the Catalan delicacies, especially if you’re looking for souvenirs. Here you can enter a world of fine black truffles, foie gras, various species of (living) snails, rare aromatic herbs, wild berries and much, much more. Feel free to ask one of the merchants for help searching your product.

If you are unable to find what you are looking for, leave it to us and we will get it for you, as we have always done.

La Boqueria

What to do after visiting La Boqueria?

Having enjoyed the gastronomic abundance of La Boqueria, you might well be ready to enter another maze. La Boqueria is located only a few steps away from one of the most beautiful parts of Barcelona, the Gothic quarter. Filled with winding narrow alleys and medieval buildings, the Gothic quarter is known as a true maze. Especially in the heat of summer, El Gòtic is an excellent retreat. Have a look at our article about the Gothic Quarter to make the most of your quest through Barcelona’s oldest part. Find hidden gems, like beautiful shopping streets or lovely terraces with our Streetwise map of Barcelona.

The Gothic quarter with its narrow alleys, restaurants and lovely boutiques is one of the magnificent parts of Barcelona.
The Gothic quarter with its narrow alleys, restaurants and lovely boutiques is one of the magnificent parts of Barcelona.

If you want to keep exploring the local cuisine, take a walk over Les Rambles to Plaça Reial. On this ample but picturesque square, you will find many restaurants and cafés with terraces offering local tapas and paella.

  • #Barcelona
  • #La Boqueria
  • #Markets
  • #Streetwise

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