Mercado de Atarazanas, Malaga’s covered market

by Sarah on November 19, 2012

malaga covered market, spain

A year has passed since my visit to Malaga.  I’d judiciously read the description of museums exhibitions and  looked through dozens of tourist pamphlets, but in time most of the details have been forgotten. This is partly because they are as riveting as Ikea instruction manuals-a stodgy run of facts devoid of character or humor. It is cardboard for the mind and discarded without a second thought.  What do I remember? Buying cheese and bread at the Mercado de Atarazana, Malaga’s covered market, and eating it on a bench in front of the Mediterranean.

Malaga, boardwalk

Unlike UNESCO Heritage sites, Malaga’s covered market has no entrance fees, hushed corridors or guarded displays. The market is history which hasn’t made it into text books- colourful, noisy and at times overwhelming. It encapsulates local culture through interaction and food, pervading the senses with everyday life.

Malaga covered market, Spain


Malaga covered market, mercado, spain

Mercado de Atarazanas, or the shipyard market stands in what was a naval workshop during the Nasrid Dynasty. The only remnant of this era is a marble arch engraved in Arabic calligraphy at the main entrance to the building. With the Reconquista, the warehouse was used as a convent, barracks, hospital, garrison and medical school. Eventually, the municipality decided to build an indoor market on this location, designed by  Joaquín de Rucoba  and completed in 1879.

Malaga covered market, spain, stained glass window

 {Above: Stained glass window and the Nasrid arch of the main entrance}

Malaga covered market, Spain, large persimmons

{Above: from top left: persimmons, lard, cassava tubers (I think) and oxtail}

Food is the same whether sold on blankets strewed haphazardly on the ground or in fancy store fronts.  Atmosphere, however, undoubtedly affects the dynamics of these daily transactions.  Thought has gone into the creation and upkeep of the Malaga Market. A large stain glass window decorates an entire wall, flooding the interior with light and lending it the feel of an art museum.  What might seem irrelevant for some, gives dignity to the mundane chore of shopping, both for buyer and seller.

seafood, malaga covered market, spain

{Above: If you know the names of these shellfish please leave a comment, they are exotic for me}

Malaga outdoor market, Spain, vendors

{Above, many vendors have pictures of religious icons in their booths}

Although I am used to a magnificent variety of produce- vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains- from the outdoor  markets of Israel, this Spanish market offers items not available here- seafood, cheese, oxtail, rabbit, cured meats….and since it was Christmas, holiday pastries as well. That day, we skipped the usual tapas lunch and bought our provisions at the market.  Combined with the blue sea, clear skies and crisp cool air, it was a perfect impromptu meal.

Malaga covered market, spain

Malaga covered market, dried fruit and spice vendor, spain

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