The site of the Central Market of Valencia (Mercat Central) was used as an open-air market starting in 1839, but by the end of the 19th century, city authorities were looking to build an indoor market space at the spot. What they got was a magnificent tribute to the architectural use of steel and glass.
After a number of architectural competitions, the winning design was a stunning example of the modernist style known as Valencian Art Nouveau. From a distance, the structure looks more like a cathedral than a covered market: The roof’s domes, in particular the one with the large cupola at the center of the building, give the exterior an appearance very much like an Italian duomo. The domes and unique slopes of the roof admit pools of light inside that complement the ornate and varied interior decoration, adorned with iron columns, colorful ceramic tile, and stained glass.
Completed in 1928 after 14 years of construction, the market covers over 86,000 square feet in two floors. Inside it mainly sells food, which is highly diverse and produces a fantastic smell. There are also a number of stalls selling touristic wares plus restaurants and bars, including the “central” bar, which is very popular with tourists and locals alike.
Know Before You Go
The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., located in the El Merkat neighborhood of Valencia.