I’m a HUGE fan of food markets. They are something I seek out, wherever I am in the world – from Barcelona’s Boqueria and Melbourne’s Queen Victoria to local street-markets in Cambodia and Thailand, I’ve visited them all. So, a trip around Malaga’s Mercado Central de Atarazanas is always a pleasure, every time I’m in Malaga city, as well as featuring high on the list of places to take visitors to.
The Moorish arched entrance blends seamlessly with 19th century industrial design and the huge, colourful stained-glass window, to create not only a beautiful back drop but also to tell the history of the origins of this bustling market-place.
Set near the heart of the city, Atarazanas has undergone many transformations since it was originally built in the 14th century as a shipyard, when the waves of the Mediterranean Sea lapped at its entrance. Over the years, changes have seen the building used as a convent, military arsenal, hospital and medical school before finally being demolished in 1868 and re-built using the current iron structure, as the city food market, in 1879. Further renovation took place from 2008 to 2010, when Málaga’s Atarazanas market was once again restored to its former glory.
You might not expect to be given a warning when you visit a city food market, but as you walk through the main entrance, which is the only remaining marble archway of what was once a seven-arched shipyard, I can guarantee your senses will explode!
Taste, sight, smell, hearing and touch – the clean interior of Mercado Central de Atarazanas has it all, from pig’s ears to pink Himalayan salt!
The market is structured into three naves – fish, meat and fruit and vegetables, and with more than 250 stalls there is surely something to tickle your tastebuds.
As you wander around, take in the dazzling displays of freshly-caught fish with their scarlet gills and scales glistening under the spotlights. Marvel at the kaleidoscope of colours in the artistically displayed fresh fruit and vegetables that smell like they’ve been picked only that morning. And savour the counters of aromatic cheeses, spices, bread, olives, dried fruits, nuts, sausages and hams, where the stall-holders are usually happy to let you taste before you buy.
A cacophony of sound fills the market, as the competing stall-holders call out to prospective customers and in turn are interrogated by discerning shoppers, eager to discover where the produce is from and how it should be prepared.
I love to watch the locals, who are not only trying to buy the freshest seasonal produce but also socializing with their neighbours as they block the aisles with their roller-trollies, discussing the latest gossip.
Shopping is a much more personal experience in Atarazanas market and, with so many stalls to choose from, cheaper than most supermarkets, too.
If you have time and are ready for some lunch after feasting your senses on all the wonderful produce, then make your way to one of the tapas bars at either end of the market, El Yerno or Cafe-Bar Atarazanas – they are both equally good. Stand near to the bar and you will soon be noticed by one of the staff who will make a space for you. It’s standing room only and always crowded, but well worth it to taste the freshly-cooked, mouth-watering pinchos de gambas, atun o cerdo (skewered prawns, tuna or seasoned pork), boquerones al limón (deep-fried whitebait with lemon) or frito de verduras (tempura-battered vegetables), which you can wash down with a caña (small beer) or vino tinto (red wine).
Whether you are a foodie visiting Málaga or a local living nearby, you won’t want to miss a visit to this authentic food market.
Where is YOUR favourite food market?
Mercado Central de Atarazanas
Calle Atarazanas 10
Open: Monday to Saturday, 8am – 2pm.
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Marianne, thank you for all your informative posts! I have been following you for a few months now and will be visiting Malaga City for a month next April. I have rented an apartment near Plaza de la Constitucion and my list of things to see and do is getting very lengthy! This market is on my list and infact I will probably spend a lot of time there as I love to cook my own meals and markets have a vibe that I can never get enough of! I live in Vancouver, Canada and we have wonderful, but small, Farmer’s Markets that occur every weeknd from Spring until Fall and one large Market on Granville Island that is open year round. It will be fun to compare the experience at Atarazanas. Your photos are stellar by the way!
Thanks Brenda – I visited Vancouver, but I guess it must be around 15 years ago now. VERY pretty part of the world. I remember taking a sea plane around Vancouver Island 🙂
Atarazanas market is a working, daily market – used by the locals for the freshest of fruit, veg, fish and meat. I think you will LOVE being in Malaga city itself, and it’s a wonderful base for trips to Granada, Ronda, Cordoba and Seville 🙂
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Great post Marianne. I’m a huge fan of food markets in Spain. I love the stained glass and the food looks pretty delicious too. I haven’t seen those ‘busanos’ up north – something to trip on my next trip down south 🙂
Yes indeed, Pamela – give them a try!
Nice to hear from you 🙂
The market and its contents look amazing! The industrial design reminds me of the Mercat del Born in Barcelona.
Atrazanas is my favourite market in this area 🙂
Love the Atarazanas market and will be visiting it again next month. I was at the Jerez market the other day, which is also one of my favourites, as well as the market in Cádiz.
Yes, I love Cádiz market too, Shawn. I’ll have to give Jerez a try next time I’m over that way. Thanks for the tip 🙂
If only I had a market even remotely like this nearby my home! Wow!!!
I live about 50 kilometres from this market, but try to get into Malaga city at least once a month. I LOVE it!
You are really lucky!
I love this market, I used to go every Saturday when I lived in Málaga; such a feast for all the senses. Thank you for allowing me for a moment to be back there. 😉
I usually manage to get there once a month, but if I lived in Malaga I would never be away!!
Glad to have transported you back there, Christine and thanks for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated 🙂
why, this very market is MY favorite. 🙂 I love that place! can’t wait to go back, will have to try the tapas next time.
…and this market gets better and better every time I go! 🙂
Your photographs are always fab but the colours here are just popping off the page! Definitely a feast for all the senses.
Thanks Grainne – much appreciated 🙂
I LOVE food markets 🙂 The best fruit market I’ve ever visited was in Madeira…
Hey, Simone – they even have cakes! 🙂
I am currently in cake paradise… Spain may have all the sun, the sangria and the savouries, but it can’t compete on the cake front 😉
I’m sure I would buy too much 🙂 Everything looks wonderful. I also love Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market.
The thing is, Ella, that the prices are SOOOO good!
BTW – whenever I’ve also been to Sydney Fish Market a few times (love the ice-cream there, with passionfruit!) 🙂
I’ve never been but have mentioned the fish markets several times to the G.O. – he says they are run down and smell… but maybe passionfruit icecream will entice him.
It could do with a bit of renovation, yes – but the food is amazing at some of the bars inside (though some of the platters are VERY expensive). Worth it for the passionfruit ice-cream though (and there are other flavours) 🙂
I just love the pride the stall holders have in their produce and displays, there is something quite magical to it all, the atmosphere here is just buzzing. Markets bring out primal instinct’s in me, must be the hunter gatherer thing.
Great post and pictures Marianne 🙂
Yes, you’re right – the stall holders have enormous pride in their produce and their stalls. I sometimes wonder how they have the time to go to such effort.
OH you hunter/gatherer, you! 🙂
I love seeing all the fresh fruit and veggies but I always have to scurry past the meat and fish in these markets…..Love the stained glass window,amazing! 🙂
I can understand that – but at least they are in separate areas 🙂
Gorgeous pictures of a gorgeous market. Must visit!
OH yes, you must, Linda. I’m sure you will love it as much as I do 🙂
Fantastic photos! They reminded the market we visiting in Spain!
These kind of food markets are wonderful, aren’t they, Amy? 🙂
What a beautiful market, Marianne and I wouldn’t want to leave without eating a meal or tapas. It couldn’t get any fresher than that.
That skewer of tuna just MELTED in my mouth – it was amazingly fresh 🙂
The good thing is, that right across the road there is a fabulous coffee shop, where you can go for a cake and coffee afterwards, too! 🙂
I am salivating as I type Marianne…wow
I can believe it, because I know the love and care you put into your cooking, Jo.
It’s a foodie paradise 🙂
It’s a fabulous market and way too long since I was last there!
I try to get there at least once a month, if I can.
I love any market food or otherwise, this one looks fabulous with the amazing window!
I’ve always loved stained-glass windows, but this one is so special 🙂
I took Christine and Stuart around this market, Gilly. I’m sure you can imagine how many photos Christine took. She wanted to buy some goats cheese and asked me to question the stall holder about it. Of course, he gave us some to try before she finally settled on one she liked. And, it was from this fantastic market that Christine bought the bottle of olive oil she gave to you as a gift.
We all enjoyed some fabulous tapas at El Yerno that day, too. I guess I’ll always think of Christine when I go there, now 🙂
Of course it makes sense now and that explains why she loved it so much, it’s nice to be able to picture you there. They told me about visiting a market with you and the wonderful goats cheese. A day of memories for all of you, one that you will treasure and yes, revisit every time you go there.
I still haven’t opened the olive oil, I think it will be a long time before I can bring myself to, but one day!
Thanks so much Marianne 🙂
The building is stunning. When I was younger I used to like to visit the market on a Saturday in Stockport which also had a separate food market in it’s own building . There was a central indoor market with all the usual stalls selling anything from clothes to crockery and this was surrounded by an outdoor market of covered stalls which them opened onto some old shops which carried things like petfood or second hand /.antique goods and the Food Hall. It was a real outing. Last time I was there much had survived by the petfood shop had become asn upmarket cafe/winebar.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
It’s a lovely building, David, truly.
Markets are so much more interesting than supermarkets, don’t you think? And I love the personal interaction you have with each individual stall-holder.
I guess there’s a place for both though 🙂
Great writing and pictures! One very small comment is that although it is open Monday to Saturday, there’s NO fresh fish sold on Monday! I am told that’s because the fisherman don’t fish on Sunday. Best visited Tuesday to Saturday!
Ooh thanks for that snippet, Ron – didn’t know that!
Just looking at the photos I feel the energy of the market. I chuckled at the open mouthed shark on the wall appearing as though he might bite off the vendor’s head. 🙂
Hahaha … yes, I noticed that, too Sue!
This market has a real buzz about it. It’s always a delight – and I always see something new 🙂
Hola Marianne, I love all these markets in Spain. I passed thru this one in Malaga. The one in Jerez is very impressive too. I would be a happy fishmonger at any of them.
…and AMAZING to take photographs there, Eduardo! 🙂
This market is on my to-do-list for quite a time ! Now that I’ve seen your pictures, I’ll go next week !!!!