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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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa November 19, 2012 at 5:18 am

What a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures with us.




Yael the Finn November 19, 2012 at 5:23 am

Lovely picttures Sarah! Oh,it has been such a long time since my last visit to Malaga! And that market.


Yael the Finn November 19, 2012 at 5:44 am

The long one,with some kind of a pouch,is a razor clam.The big beautiful one is “King scallop”.I think you also have “cross-cut carpet shell” in that picture.


Sarah November 19, 2012 at 7:10 am

Thanks Yael! I know so little about shellfish


Eha November 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Thank you for a fantastic market trip: agree with Yael the Finn re the scallops and I think you have some cockles and mussles on the right. Thinking back, religious customs may make your lack of knowledge of some of this more than understandable . . . Love the meaty oxtail and the beautiful artichokes: both faves of mine! And the size of these strawberries!!!!


Sarah November 20, 2012 at 6:05 am

Eha, Thanks for the comment. Shellfish isn’t kosher, that’s for sure. It isn’t common among the Arabs in Israel as well. I encounter them mostly during travel.


Turkey's For Life November 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

Strange how a food market can stay with you more than all the history research you do around a place. We were in Izmir late summer and were so excited to wake up one morning to see a full on food market set up along our street. :)


suzanne March 11, 2013 at 8:44 am

Do u know if this malaga food market is open on the monday 1st april, 2013. The day after easter sunday?


Sarah March 12, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Hi Susanne, I’ve asked and they said yes. Enjoy you trip!


Sarah March 13, 2013 at 4:07 am

Monday however the fish section is closed


Kim July 29, 2013 at 6:08 am

Regarding the shellfish, the ones to the right at the down right picture is close to being the signature of the Malaga coast, the fabulous Conchas finas. Raw with a sprinkle of lemon they taste like pure sea meets pure heaven.

The ones to the left in the same pictire are the very common but also delicious Almejas (sea clams), often served on their own in a white wine, garlic, parsley sauce or together with pasta.


Sarah July 29, 2013 at 6:46 am

Kim, Thanks for the link and information about conchas finas! Would love to visit the market again.


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